King Midas Sound, JK Flesh and Glatze at Corsica Studios for Supersonic Festival Taster 09.08.2012

Supersonic Festival, Brimingham’s premier experimental music splurge, is now celebrating its 10th year, and as a taster for the upcoming festival, decided to take over Corsica Studios for a night of oppressive, bass-heavy monstrosities.

Or at least, that was kind of the plan. I will admit to having been slightly confused to see Glatze on the line up. Sam Underwood’s one man (with many toys) outfit can certainly do bass glitch assault as well as any, but also featured something which was absent from the other acts on this evening – that being humour.

Starting with some perfectly judged bass sweeps, bleeding into a full on dancehall beat, the rapidly growing crowd seemed to be getting into it, and an electronic take on ‘Black Sabbath’ was suitably hefty, but the introduction of slide whistles, robot voices and Thatcher-spitting-image-head-percussion seemed to leave the beard stroking contingent somewhat unsure.

Are you allowed to laugh at a gig like this?

Finishing with the track ‘Glatze‘ from his EP on The Centrifuge (a charming, story led polka number which results in the death of the many members of a band, all of whom are called ‘Glatze’) led to applause, albeit of the rather uncertain variety.

Still, an interesting and entertaining start.

There was, however, absolutely no chance of humour from JK Flesh.

With a 7-string guitar, Macbook and a midi controller, the set up seemed minimal in comparison to Glatze’s table full of goodies, and with such a gigantic back catalogue and so many pseudonyms one would lose count.

Would it be melodic and droney as per Jesu material? The beat driven sludge of Techno Animal?

The second the noise started there doubt as to what was in store – we were in Godflesh territory. Full on armageddon subs, sandblasted guitars, pitch shifted screaming and feedback combined to drop jaws throughout the room.

Perfection was not the aim here – the guitar playing didn’t seem to be particularly tight, and the hiss from the amp while the guitar was muted meant that the crowd were uncertain as to whether to applaud at the end of songs, as nobody was certain whether they had finished or not. It didn’t matter. The pure, pulsating waves of noise kept coming, leaving the (mostly male, mostly bearded, frequently balding) crowd in awe.

By this point, things had overrun slightly due to a late start, and with barely any pause to recover, Kevin Martin took to the stage for the start of the King Midas Sound set.

Photo by Ursa.

Plenty has been said of the KMS demands for bass pressure and their refusal to play in venues with a suitable system. Even with such knowledge in mind, the weight was incredible.

After the harsh industrial tones of Broadrick’s grinding, there was a warmth to KMS – even amongst the deepest low end. One thing which I have not seen mentioned is the snare. Awe inspiring, heavily reverbed, like feeling your spine crack.

Catch A Fire on the Skeng riddim demolished the venue, Hitomi floating over the beat and adding a totally different feel from Flowdan’s original, like Portishead with 10 foot subs and a flick-knife in their pocket.

Earth A Kill Ya showcased both Hitomi and Roger Robinson’s vocal styles, the interplay between the two being a highlight of the set, and showing that this is indeed a band, not just Kevin Martin with some vocalists.

All the while, Kevin himself stood in the corner, working a huge mixer and laptop, cap down, pushing the system as hard as it would go, up to a climatic crescendo – tones ripping through the audience, apocalyptic, yet blissful. With the late start, we only got 45m or so of KMS, but even that was enough to leave their stamp on the night.

Supersonic takes place in Birmingham, 19th-21st October.


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