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ISIS
JESU
BOHREN
DER CLUB OF GORE

Rock City, Nottingham
28.04.05

(review n pix by MWJ)

 

Deafening silence. The temporary demise of my boominí ICE system meant driving round the country with nothing to distract me from the voices in my head, or even worse, my own singing. Still, this no doubt heightened the contrast to the pleasure avalanche of noise provided tonight.

The downstairs bar was already pretty packed when I got in and Bohren started quite soon after that. Hadnít known they were on the bill, had only heard of them rather than heard them. Slow, melancholy, ambient instrumental tunes provided by saxophone, bass, electronics and maybe drums (couldnít see from where I was), itís pretty minimalist yet still atmospheric. The stage is dark apart from their customised hanging mike/light combination adding to the mood, but ultimately I found it a bit samey, sax always conjouring up the same images in my head of rain on windows, flickering neon lights, city scapes at night etc. They engaged well with the crowd, amusing reaction to dedicating "Destroying Angels" to the new pope (a fellow German) and were well applauded by the audience as their soundscape production ultimately fitted well with the other attractions of the evening.

 

 

As in a previous review, the debut tour of Jesu last year had suffered from technical difficulties so much that theyíd quit before the end. Now, as with their recorded material released at the start of the year, live drums have been added, although due to commitments the legendary hammerer Ted Parsons (Swans, Prong, Godflesh) is replaced by Roderic from Swedish band Knut. There is still laptop tinkering to provide the loops and multi-layers before Justin Broadrick introduces themselves and the slow, steady, drawn-out and epic riffs roll-out. The wall of sound is fantastic, an exercise in controlled demolition through distortion, yet maintaining subtlety in progressions. I am struck with happiness/jealousy for Diarmuid on bass, who seems to have an easy job in keeping the rhythm going along with not a lot of notes, and yet is producing some colossal bass vibes, even the PA speakers are suffering. They both have earplugs in as is sensible for touring musicians but Iím surprised to see people in the crowd with them in as well, how can you appreciate the music as itís intended like that, you pussies? Then I figure out that you are as much feeling it as hearing it so it may well still work! The sparse, drifting vocals are intended to be another layer in the music as opposed to distinct but I donít feel they sit well tonight, and are distracting when trying to find the right key, I think Justin even ends up ad-libbing a bit just to blend them better. "Friends are Evil" is the closer of the 3 ten minute plus tracks, my favourite off their album, as itís a good deal more brutal than some of the more anthemic others, coming much closer to older Godflesh sound, ending (eventually) in looped chaotic, bone shaking noise. Feel a little short changed as I know some gigs have had four songs but thatís all the time theyíre allowed tonight itís testament to their achievement that the epics have just flown by. Also great to hear people raving about it afterwards, feeling the transition from Godflesh to Jesu has worked extremely well.

 

 

Itís even more rammed in there now and Iím squashed in a corner, thankfully a corner of the bar. I only had one Isis release, a remix mini-lp (that featured Justin Broadrick), but I was interested to see how they fitted into a niche amongst the heavy, ambient, doom, instrumental, progressive, art-rock genres that they may touch upon. Iím surprised how many scenester stoodent types there are there too (Iím not one for nice haircuts, pretty boys, well any haircut come to think of it!), itís definitely not a conventional metal crowd, I guess they have good crossover appeal through their intelligent and atmospheric structures. Plus itís good to get stoned too. The American band have maybe followed a similar path to the seminal Neurosis and their other contemporary Cult of Luna, from harder-core origins expanding their horizons to progressive compositions. They certainly follow the same pattern of light and shade, gentle and heavy contrasting build-ups and drop outs but the difference I perceive is thereís more of an insistent undercurrent. The complex riff developments reminded me of Tool, but as I found with their last live show, Iím not sure this is the best live entertainment. It starts to nag of being too "arty", and excessive noodling, where the core of the song is perhaps unnecessarily overextended. Makes me tired and unemotional. You can still appreciate what theyíre putting into it and what they are creating, and it might be different of I knew the material in advance but interest here wanes. I escape towards the back to watch the end of the show. They play one out and out heavy older song, which seems much more effective and impacting in the live environment, then finish with the epic (that I know as the Broadrick remix) "Celestial", which certainly is evocative of drifting through the void, for a long timeÖ

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