Islington Mill, Salford. 03/12/2009
By Pete Rea
This is my first visit to Islington Mill, the hub for creative minds in Salford is difficult to find in the dark. It is understated to say the least, in an ‘affordable for artists’ kind of way. Four bands are on the bill tonight, organized by WOTGODFORGOT.
Irma Vep kick things off with heavy Joy Division influence. Their final tune resembles The Twilight Sad as the vocalist helps the drummer add to the pounding rhythm.
Gnod is a surreal experience, I feel like I’m in a scene from The Mighty Boosh as they perform a slow tribute to Aphex Twin. A tribe of dancers appear, wrapped in Toy Story bed sheets and Halloween masks. They mingle with the bemused audience with trumpets and portable percussion, as a girl on stage dressed as the devil completes the scene from a budget David Lynch film.
Cyril Snear are more reserved in personality, but create an impressive combination of addictive riffs and imaginative drumming, through a set which flows from folk to pro-rock wall of sound, effortlessly. Possible influences are 65 Days of Static and Four Tet, but the result is quite unique.
I’m comfortably seated on the leather sofas near the front, with people sitting on the floor around me, as Six Organs of Admittance take to the stage. Their differing dress sense and presence hint to a melting pot of styles. Lead, rhythm and baritone guitars front a 60’s hippy drummer. Singer and band creator Ben Chasny wittily references what has gone on before and slowly builds up a finger picking folky improvisation… until the Peavey amp starts to give way under the pressure and crackles on the verge of blowing. The band has to stop in an embarrassing moment, as they appear to have no solution. Drunken, undecipherable suggestions don’t help matters, but a spare Marshall amp does. Ben fills the technical delay with a guitar solo to great affect.
They start the set with ‘Bar-Nasha’ from the latest album “Luminous Night”. Most of the percussion, the strings and flute are all missing in the live set up. Acoustic guitars have been replaced by electric, creating a much more raucous interpretation to the recorded material. On lead guitar, Elisa Ambrogio from Magic Markers (dressed in American gothic) occasionally kneels on the floor to play slide, when she’s not providing backing vocals that are barely audible.
The baritone guitarist looks decidedly grunge as he rocks back and forth like an excited child, and the drummer looks pained and emotionally entwined amongst the swirling melodies and outer worldly lyrics.
After what was described as a traditional English folk tune, they play my personal favourite, the title track from the album ‘Shelter From The Ash’. The guitar riffs and more traditional song structure provide a safe haven amongst the other, more experimental wall of sound material. The attentive and highly appreciative audience seem to have forgotten the amp incident and patiently wait for the songs to conclude fully before filling the room with whoops and applause.
The final tune is appropriately “Home” from the album ‘School of the Flower’. It provides a spine tingling finale as Elisa’s beautiful vocals suddenly become audible and add a breath of fresh air to the dark and gritty atmosphere.