“Advanced doom and psychedelic out-rock wiggery from three undisputed masters in their field: Keiji Haino, Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi…The Japanese icon is in tremendous form, shredding like a maniac, capable of coaxing both plummy riffage and abstract sheets of sound out of his axe, often at the same time; his vocals, meanwhile, veer from pseudo-religious incantation to feral squawks and growls. Almost needless to say, O’Malley and Ambarchi are the perfect accomplices, and depending on what Haino requires they supply delicate ambience, apocalyptic battery or loose-limbed rock ‘n roll swagger. For confirmed fans of any of the three principals this is obviously a buy-on-sight item, but we’d also recommend it to anyone looking to understand why Haino is so revered – the face-melting dervish of a show documented on this release will leave you in no doubt whatsoever.” Boomkat
Nicholas Bullen – Component Fixations
An artist and composer based in Birmingham. Working across a range of media (including sound, text, film, installation and performance), his work explores strategies for the transmutation of elements and systems of communication.
Beginning as a founder member of the ‘extreme’ music group Napalm Death at the age of 13, he has an over 30 year history of composition (releasing over 40 recordings) and live performance (both solo and collaboratively) . Recent sound performances focus on the use of environmental recordings as the basis of fixed media acousmatic composition alongside live improvisation and signal processing in real-time.
Nicholas will be launching his new record Component Fixations at this event, released on Type Records.
There are several exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime collaborative performances taking place at this year’s Supersonic, ranging from Lash Frenzy’s all-star noise ensemble to KK Null’s performance with local tuba-drone pioneers ORE, and of course, the pairing of several string, woodwind and brass musicians with Eugene S. Robinson and Niko Wenner for the much anticipated Oxbow Orchestra. There must be something about the adventurous atmosphere of Supersonic, as the festival has a long history of inspiring musicians to step out of their comfort zones and join forces with one another to contribute something truly special to the festival. Indeed, these one-off spectacles and collaborations are part of what makes the festival so unique, and have provided avid concert goers with a veritable smörgåsbord of cherished memories over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights – which one was your favourite?
2011 – Fire! & Oren Ambarchi
Last year’s edition of the festival saw Swedish avant-jazz trio Fire! team up with Australia’s finest purveyor of drones (and frequent Sunn O))) collaborator) Oren Ambarchi, for an enthralling set that touched on noise, jazz, and musique concrète with the kind of subtle elegance and deft textural sensibility we’ve come to expand from these fine musicians. Evidently these guys enjoyed the performance as much as the audience did, as Fire! recruited Ambarchi once again for their third album, ‘In The Mouth – A Hand’, which was released last year.
2010 – Lash Frenzy VS KK Null
When these two noise titans clashed together two years ago, the results were akin to a nuclear bomb detonation, obliterating all in its path (it’s rumoured that there are still children being born in Digbeth with tinnitus to this very day). Holding the honour of being one of Supersonic’s loudest ever performances (and, as those who have attended the festival before will attest, this is certainly no small feat!), the Library was packed to the rafters for this one-off show, with a lengthy queue of dedicated noise addicts stretching around the block. Be sure to get there early for this year’s special performances to avoid listening from outside!
Providing some respite from the ear-bleeding antics of the aforementioned duo, 2010 also found Iraqi Oud virtuoso Khyam Allami teaming up with mysterious psych-rock collective Master Musicians of Bukkake for this exclusive performance. Named after the Bosphorus Strait that divides East and West, Europe and Asia, this was an extremely diverse set that sought to bridge musical schisms, joining Allami’s meditative Eastern melodies with the Master Musicians’ penchant for acid fried jams, taking the audience on an aural pilgrimage to the furthest regions of their collective psyche and sounding rather fantastic in the process.
2008 –Kikuri, feat. Merzbow & Keiji Haino
The pairing of two of Japan’s most extreme musical exports was never going to make for easy listening, but nothing could have prepared us for the deafening onslaught produced by these masters of their respective crafts. Masami Akita’s torrential outbursts of static and rich, layered walls of feedback provided the perfect counterpoint to Haino’s chilling, ethereal wail and guitar mangling histrionics, resulting in an eclectic and vibrant set that’s often spoken of in hushed tones by Supersonic veterans.
2007 – Oxbow Duo Presents: Love’s Holiday Orchestra
When Oxbow’s Eugene & Niko performed at the festival 5 years ago, they brought along an all-star ensemble (featuring Godflesh/Jesu mastermind Justin Broadrick, Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and ex-Head Of David bassist David Cochrane) for an unforgettable and thrillingly intimate set, never to be repeated again (but fear not – Oxbow will be returning this year with a small orchestra in tow, and Justin Broadrick will also be putting in an appearance with his new JK Flesh project).
The performance was captured on tape and released on wax as part of Capsule’s limited edition vinyl series. Unfortunately all 1000 copies are long sold out, but there are still a number of great releases available, chronicling Supersonic sets from the likes of Harvey Milk, Tweak Bird and Iron Lung – the perfect way to relive those Supersonic memories and keep your excitement under control during the wait for this year’s edition!