Sunday, 28 February 2010

Invasion / Bo Ningen @ Bungalows and Bears 28/02/10

Bo Ningen are an absolute sight to behold as well as a sound to be heard. Four worryingly skinny Japanese guys with dead straight chest length hair who specialise in making some of the most frustratingly hard to pin down music you’ve ever heard. One minute all galloping bombast, the next lurching bass and frail trippy ambience, and then total freakout; wailing guitars, booming bass and shrieked vocals. Bassist / vocalist Taigen leads the spectacle. A man possessed, he thrashes himself about with apparently boundless energy, clambering on top of his amplifier, often holding his hands aloft when they aren’t required otherwise, his fingers twitching seemingly of their own accord.

By the end of the set guitars are held aloft by their headstocks and twirled in huge arcs with joyous abandon, while swirls of feedback and cymbal crashes engulf the venue. An absolute revelation.

Invasion are unfortunate to have such a ridiculously tough act to follow. They are after all one of the most interesting metal prospects the UK has produced recently, unusual for a number of reasons. Firstly, as they have no bassist, secondly as they are comprised of two thirds females, and thirdly because they rely on an effect heavy, fuzzy guitar sound that harkens back to the genre’s roots, rather than the crunchy, down-tuned distortion that is most commonly favoured today.

They show that they are capable of bringing a degree of theatricality to even the smallest of shows. Frontwoman Chan cutting the figure of a dark priestess in her psychedelic robe, hood up, feet bare and tambourine shaking. Drummer Zel, with the aid of a quick squirt of lighter fluid, sets fire to her cymbals halfway through the set and they end, in typical rock and roll fashion, with guitarist Marek nonchalantly tossing his axe into the air, letting it drop to the floor and crack in two. Splendid.

None of this overly distracts from the music however, its lack of low end barely noticeable and hardly lacking, considering Malek’s uncanny knack of creating a stream of positively groovy riffs at breakneck speed without the aid of a four stringer.

For the few that braved the cold, this Sunday night held a treat. The rest of Sheffield just doesn’t know what it missed out on.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Butterfly Explosion @ Corporation 16/02/10

Cutting an unassuming presence as they first take to the stage shrouded in shadow, The Butterfly Explosion have a great deal to live up to considering the ‘audio-visual show’ promised by tonight’s headliners, God is an Astronaut. However, the Dublin five-piece are perhaps protégés of their hosts, whose Torsten Kinsella recently produced their debut album, and put in a great performance of their own.

Although many are touting them as shoegaze revivalists, and they are indeed at times all wailing guitars, underpinned by lush synth and hushed vocals, their sound incorporates strong post rock influences - slow burning compositions tend to ebb and flow before the crashing tide. While their tentative introductions may seem to lack punch, a little patience definitely pays off by the time they hit huge crescendos, absolute waves of noise that engulf the entire room and hold the assembled punters in the desired trance.

If there can be one complaint to level at the band however, it is that founding member Gazz Carr’s vocals are underwhelming given the epic nature of the rest of their sound. While not taking anything away from the music, being so low in the mix, they don’t exactly add a great deal either and at times it is questionable if they are at all necessary. Perhaps a greater set of lungs would see them soar beyond their already considerable highs.

While the band do not carry themselves with a particularly notable stage presence, they let their music do the talking, along with a fairly impressive light show, hinting at what is to come from the headliners. The night still belongs to them, but even with such a short set at only four songs, The Butterfly Explosion mark themselves as ones to look out for in future.