Saturday, 13 April 2013

Gnod at Dalston Victoria - 11 April 2013


The Dalston Victoria is a shabby and rather battered looking pub on the outside. There is a bouncer on the door. It’s not particularly inviting.  Inside, there is a pervading and rather noisome odour that I eventually track down to the Thai curries that are on offer. These don’t seem that inviting either.

There is a sign on the door that gives the running times for tonight’s bands. It is quite clear that these are wildly optimistic.

Tonight is an Upset the Rhythm promotion. This means that you can be sure of two things. That there will be great music and that the evening will run in a chaotic fashion.

We are eventually ushered into the back room to be confronted with drum and noise duo Gum Takes Tooth. 

Things start promisingly. There is a lot of electronic equipment onstage and this is used to good effect to distort the sound and rhythm of the drum kit and assist the vocalist, who spends much of his time shouting down what appears to be a small handheld megaphone with the end taped up.

There is nothing wrong with the band that couldn’t be solved with an ‘edit’ button. Drummer Thomas is impressive and vocalist Jussi looks like a scuzzy janitor from a Scooby Doo cartoon. I’m happy with them both, although they do rather outstay their welcome.

After a brief hiatus the room is set for Gnod. And Gnod are a revelation.

From their recorded work I had mistakenly formed a mental image of a band with long hair blasting out spacey and psychedelic rock music. What I actually get is a dark room piled high with electronics and strobe lights and lots of musicians slaving away over their equipment like an infernal sweatshop.

Gnod have eschewed the stage and have set up their banks of gear on the floor. This allows the crowd to press right up to them.  Not that this is possible, as the way is barred by a howling vocalist, screaming his lungs out through a microphone that distorts his voice and adds it to the thunderous cacophony.

This is wild music that feels like standing in a gale at the top of a cliff. It’s all around you, lifting you up and buffeting you about. The darkness adds to the experience, the strobes like flashes of lightning that momentarily illuminate a musician pounding away at a bench of wires and dials.

It’s disorienting and wonderful. This electronic music sounds organic and dirty rather than calculated and clean. It’s the anti-Kraftwerk and more akin to Rough Trade era Cabaret Voltaire (if the Cabs had been strapped to a Saturn rocket).

Time and space mean nothing and such is the volume and power unleashed that it continues to whoosh around your head even when the band have finished and left the room.

Gnod is good. Gnod is great. Thanks be to Gnod.

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