Supersonic 2012 – Here’s To Another 10 Years!

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It’s hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since we were all frantically rushing around the Custard Factory, putting the final touches to the various wild man posters around the site and screwing in the last few records to the Vinyl Rally’s MDF floor before hordes of music fans rushed in to bask in the eclectic and adventurous sounds that Capsule had loving curated this year – and what a lineup it was! There was truly something for everyone, as Friday ran the gamut between JK Flesh’s absolutely punishing industrial dub, the surreal electronica of the Small But Hard showcase, the free-wheeling cosmic riffery of Hey Colossus, the toy tinkering soundscapes of Modified Toy Orchestra, and of course, the triumphant return of drum’n’bass dark lords PCM to the Supersonic stage.

Saturday brought even more surprises, from the gentle folk strains of Dylan Carlson’s new material to the unholy combination of Merzbow and Oxbow’s Eugene and Niko, a full-on audio explosion that wiped clean the mental state of everyone in attendance. I also have to give praise to the incredible drummer that accompanied Masami Akita’s astonishing feedback theatrics, augmenting the sonic devastation with some jazzy splashes, tribal belligerence and even some well timed blastbeats without ever failing by the wayside of Akita’s incendiary slabs of twsited sonic debri, which is no mean feat! A rare UK showing from Bohren & der Club of Gore was utterly captivating, enveloping the Boxxed venue in a dense, melancholy atmosphere and transporting the audience into the starkest of film noir settings for the entire duration of their set.

Meanwhile, Drunk In Hell’s molasses thick sludge onslaught and Zeni Geva’s vitally intricate sonic attack provided a satisfying ammount of musical filth to wallow in, forcing heads to bang and mosh pits to errupt. Zeni Geva may only exist as a two-piece now, but that hasn’t hindered KK Null and Yoshida’s fury at all, with Null especially firing off an arsenal of bewildering noise outbursts alongside his standard riff warfare via a series of baffling pedals. The icing on the cake was undoubtedly the astonishing avant-electronica of Hype Williams; bathing the entire Warehouse in a thick, eerie fog, the enigmatic duo proceeded to fuse together dub, noise, jazz, musique concrete, electro and garage influences into an uncategorizable and unforgettable performance. As Copeland’s beautiful tones danced across the bizarre volley of sounds emanating from Blunt’s corner of the stage, in which gullet-rattling dub basslines collided with squealing trumpets and reverb drenched car alarms, it was hard to shake the feeling that we were witnessing something of a musical revolution!

In keeping with Supersonic’s inclusive ethos, even youngsters were catered for with this year’s kid’s gigs, in which we bore witness to the heartwarming sight of a room full of children grooving along to the expansive psych voyages of Flower/Corsano Duo – and who knows? In 10 years time, some of these children may be taking to our stages themselves to blow your mind with their sonic wares…

Sunday boasted perhaps one of the most spectacular running orders in Supersonic’s illustrious history, with all manner of heavy weights awaiting today’s eager audience. Gnod’s triumphant set in Boxxed was astonishing, the over-powering throb of their sublimely heavy krautrock-isms gradually reconfiguring the pulse of each listener, unwittingly tuning into their psyche and forcing them headfirst into a cosmic thrill ride the likes of which would make even Timothy Leary baulk at the sheer intensity of it all. Elsewhere, Justice Yeldham revealed to us all the mind mangling sounds that lay dormant in a single piece of glass, Lash Frenzy created an imposing and lucid arena in which achieve total sensory overload, and the mighty Ufomammut invited us to accompany them on a voyage deep into the heart of their latest two-record opus, ‘ORO’. Once these guys peak there’s no force in the universe that can restrain them, and the riffs are flowing thick and fast (or should that be slow?) tonight. Whilst both the ‘ORO’ records are impressive in their own right, combined they are a true force to behold, and to witness this incredible odyssey in the flesh is an awesome experience!

A tough act to follow indeed, but mysterious Swedish voodoo merchants Goat were more than up to the challenge. Taking to the stage in colourful robes, ritualistic gaments and erm, a golden robot mask, the band’s vibrant psych-rock/afro-beat concoction instantly whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Racing through all of their ‘World Music’ debut (including instant classics like ‘Goatman’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Run To Your Mama’) but allowing their songs a bit more room to breathe, the Swedes kicked out the jams with an infectious energy and by the time the extended version of ‘Det som aldrig förändras / Diarabi’ brought their revelatory set to a close, you’d be hard pushed to find a single member of the audience who wasn’t sporting an enormous ear-to-ear grin. Incredible!

Finally, the Oxbow Orchestra provided an enthralling end to this year’s celebrations, reinterpreting some of their classic songs and even treating us to some choice cuts from their upcoming full-length ‘The Thin Black Duke’. Their performance was at once intimate and gripping, but without losing any of the potent intensity that has made the band such a force to be reckoned with over the years. This was due to be Supersonic 2012’s final performance, but it seems you, the audience, had other ideas, as an impromptu and sublimely hypnotic drum circle erupted in the beer tent just outside. As the ringing in our ears began to subside, the communal and strangely rhythmic clinking of pint glasses against benches and a sea of warm smiles was a perfect finish to this year’s festival.

Of course, I’m only scratching the surface of Supersonic 2012 here; beyond the numerous delights of this year’s musical lineup, there was a whole plethora of extra-curricular activities. The sight of a fresh-faced individual feverishly clutching at a copy of their own recently pressed Kim Gordon collab on their way back from the Reverse Karaoke installation become a pleasingly common sight over the weekend, and the procession of startingly costumed members of the Outcrowd throughout the festival site on Sunday was a source of much ceremonial excitement. The ear mutilating sounds of Lucas Abela’s Vinyl Rally were a definite highlight, featuring one of Lucas’ most ambitious track layouts to date. Volunteers hastily scrambled alongside the track as Lucas himself sat within the makeshift nerve centre of the rally, tinkering away whilst the assembled throng routinely found themselves astonished by the sheer spectacle of it all.

And of course, there’s the massive contribution that you yourselves paid to the festival, by arriving in your dozens and flooding the Custard Factory with enthusiasm, joy and good vibes. This year’s edition of the festival was one of the finest of the past 10 years, a truly excellent way to celebrate a decade of passionate experimental arts programming – here’s to another ten years!

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Zeni Geva Strike Back!

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It’s an honour to have one of Japan’s most uncompromising and original noise rock bands appearing at Supersonic’s 10th anniversary bash – we are of course talking about the mighty Zeni Geva! Seeing as guitarist and vocalist KK Null has graced the Supersonic stage numerous times over the past decade (including an absolutely incredible performance with Zeni Geva themselves back in 2010 that melted the brains of everyone within a 10 mile radius), this seems like the perfect band to invite along for this year’s celebrations.

Zeni Geva’s sound doesn’t lend itself to easy categorisation, taking the primordial soup of death metal and blending it until it assumes the complex characteristics of prog rock, then lathering it in thick, turbulent layers of dissonance and serving the whole mixture up with a generous side portion of paranoia, anger and fear. Whilst KK Null has remained the core leader of the group, over the years the band’s personnel has read like a who’s-who of the early Japanese noise scene, featuring the talents of Acid Mother’s Temple guitarist Mitsuru Tabata and Boredoms/Hanatarashi drummer Ikuo Taketani, who has since been replaced by hyper talented Ruins sticksman Tatsuya Hoshida. Zeni Geva’s incendiary sound was too exciting to go unnoticed by the Western world however, and eventually caught the attention of such luminaries as Steve Albini and Jello Biafra, who signed the band to his Alternative Tentacles label in 1993 to release their classic ‘Desire For Agony’ record. As anyone who has witnessed them in the flesh before will attest, the Zeni Geva live experience is truly a force of nature. A whirlwind of distraught riffs, rapidly shifting time signatures and an almost unbearable tension threaten to overwhelm the listener, before the band’s abstract pummelling eventually ushers in a state of bizarre, transcendental euphoria. The band’s UK shows haven’t exactly been plentiful over the years, so grab this chance to see this incredible band while you can!

But of course, artists as prolific as Null and Hoshida aren’t just satisfied with treating us to just one mindblowing performance, and both artists will be taking to the stage under different guises this year too. KK Null will be teaming up for a one-off set with local tuba drone pioneers ORE, a two-piece dedicated to broadening the pallette of drone/doom with the vast, resonant sounds of the tuba. ORE’s Sam Underwood joined Null for his gut shatteringly intense performance with Lash Frenzy at Supersonic two years ago, which was evidently the start of a very fruitful partnership indeed. This unlikely combo will be playing a piece of music they’ve written specially for the festival, and will even have a few copies of an ultra-limited CD-R for sale. These are sure to sell like hot cakes, so act quickly if you want to snap one up! How ORE’s deep brass drones will play off against KK Null’s retina searingly powerful waves of noise is anyone’s guess, but this promises to be a fantastically esoteric journey into the furthest reaches of experimental music. Don’t miss out!

Tatsuya Hoshida will also be performing as Ruins Alone, the solo incarnation of his incredibly complex but endlessly groovy band Ruins. Sharing a similar style of frantic hyperactivity with bands like Naked City, Fantômas and Melt Banana but walking a path that is all their own, Ruins feed music through their own personalised meat grinder and string together the resulting strands into intricate patterns that make the Fibonacci sequence look like the 2x time table. Taking influence from French prog rock madmen Magma, Ruins songs are sung in their own language, a fitting trait for a band that so steadfastly refuses to adhere to conventional norms and structures. After being lucky enough to find 4 different virtuoso bassists to accompany him over the past 18 years, recently Hoshida has decided to go it alone, wowing audiences across the globe with his technical precision and flawless ability to leap between wildly different time signatures with the utmost grace. Ruins have always emphasised the power of immediacy and spontaneity in addition to their impeccable musicianship, making this a set that will be as gratifying to free wheeling hedonists as it is to beard stroking percussion experts.

Zeni Geva will play Supersonic Festival on Saturday 20th October, whilst Ruins Alone and KK Null & ORE will play on Sunday 21st October.

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Doomsday Student – An Introduction…

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Doomsday Student are another exciting addition to this years lineup, and are sure to find favour with fans of other acts on the bill this year like Zeni Geva, Dope Body and Drunk In Hell.

Doomsday Student are in many ways a logical continuation of the seminal Providence noise rock band Arab on Radar. For the uninitiated, Arab on Radar’s sound was a thrilling whirlwind of abrasive, trebly guitars, harrowingly repetitive distorted bass lines, brutally primitive rhythms and nasal shrieks, a winning combination that influenced pretty much every noise rock band to follow in their wake. Doomsday Student comprises the bulk of Arab on Radar’s personnel (plus members of another post-Arab on Radar project, Chinese Stars) and as such share some similar qualities, but these musicians are keen to distinguish Doomsday Student as a distinct entity in its own right, stating that –

“You know who these men are. They have been other men. Who they were before does not matter. What matters most is who they are now. These men, with two menacing guitars, violent drums, and wild words will fill that void in you. They will build bunkers out of your bones. They will make weapons out of your teeth. They will drink your tears and feed on your meat.”

Evidently, Doomsday Student mean business, and will stop at nothing to eviscerate your eardrums with their pummelling noise rock. We contacted the band to find out more about what they have in store for us at this year’s festival, and which other bands they’re looking forward to seeing…


Supersonic: Why should Supersonic attendees check out your set?
Doomsday Student: Doomsday Student features 3/4  of Arab On Radar, 3/4 of Chinese Stars, and half of Athletic Automaton. All founders of and contributors to the now Near-Mythic Providence R.I. No-Wave/Noise scene. Our reputation precedes us.

Could you tell us briefly about how Doomsday Student came into being?
The band was born out of confusion and obsession. It’s a delicate topic. I would suggest rereading answer #1.

If time, money and space were no object, what would you do with your performance?
We wouldn’t do anything different.

Who else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival this year?
We’ve heard a lot about Goat and Lichens. We are looking forward to seeing them for the first time.  We are also looking forward to playing with Dope Body and Zeni Geva again. Arab On Radar played with Zeni Geva in Grand Rapids, MI in the late 90’s and it was unreal! We haven’t seen them since.

Who would be the ideal artist for you to collaborate with at Supersonic 2012?
No offense to any of the other artists but I think we would be a nightmare to collaborate with. We wouldn’t want to put anyone in that position.

If you were curating Supersonic, which three artists would you most want to have on board?
We would want Sightings, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, and Lightning Bolt. But we would also take the opportunity to beg Lake Of Dracula, US Maple, and Harry Pussy to get back together and play.

Which items would you say are essential for festival survival?
A great location and great bands.

Finally, what does the future have in store for Doomsday Student?
We’ve already begun writing our second record. So, we will probably finish writing it and record it in early spring.

 

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Ruins Alone

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Formed in 1985, RUINS has been continuing to develop and deepen their world for over 18 years. Tunes are complicated and mysterious, and songs are sung in the language of their own invention. It’s high-tension, wild, heavy, speedy, acute, and powerful. RUINS started with a noisy hardcore sound, then moved into a more technical, complicated sound, performances showcase both characteristics. True hardcore progressive sound.

http://www.myspace.com/ruinsband

 

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Zeni Geva

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ZENI GEVA is a Japanese prog-hardcore band, led by singer and guitarist KK Null, a pioneering group of innovators and legends.
ZENI GEVA was founded in Tokyo in 1987 and quickly found a dedicated fan base in Europe and the US. Their popularity in the west enabled ZENI GEVA to be one of the first Japanese bands to tour in Europe and the US with bands like Neurosis, Melvins, Dazzling Killmen, Don Caballero, Eyehategod, Pain Teens, Shellac, Bastro, Crash Worship and more.

http://zenigeva.jpn.org/

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Ruins

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Formed in 1985, RUINS has been continuing to develop and deepen their world for over 18 years. Tunes are complicated and mysterious, and songs are sung in the language of their own invention. It’s high-tension, wild, heavy, speedy, acute, and powerful. RUINS started with a noisy hardcore sound, then moved into a more technical, complicated sound, performances showcase both characteristics. True hardcore progressive sound.

http://www.myspace.com/ruinsband

[jwplayer config=”video mainpage” mediaid=”1818″]

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Lash Frenzy vs KK Null

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[jwplayer config=”audio sidebar” playlistid=”1267″]This performance is brought to you by KK Null (Zeni Geva) and Lash Frenzy(Einstellung). KK Null needs no real introduction; regarded as a pioneer ofthe experimental scene by the likes of Sonic Youth and Merzbow, what else is there to say? Lash Frenzy is Andrew Moscardo-Parker’s  sound art guise. A blatant disregard to narrative and structure combined with solid walls of sound has seen Lash Frenzy share the stage with the likes of Earth and Melt Banana. For this performance the ‘Lash Frenzy Big Band’, will be joined by Torque, Mort the Sonic and Mr Underwood (Glatze).

http://www.kknull.com/

http://www.myspace.com/lashfrenzy[jwplayer config=”video mainpage” playlistid=”1084″]

This performance is supported by Japan Foundation

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