artifacts of the no-audience underground: etai keshiki – etai or dieFebruary 23, 2012 at 8:52 am | Posted in live music, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: ashtray navigations, drone, electronica, etai keshiki, human combustion engine, leeds, live music, new music, no audience underground, noise, phil todd, punk
ETAI KESHIKI – ETAI OR DIE (hypnowave records)
When a chap turns 40 years old, as I recently did, it can be an occasion for reflection. I couldn’t help but look back (with some pride, some huge embarrassment) and look forward (with trepidation) but mainly I took a detailed stock-take of the present. My conclusions were thus: I am, by and large, happy and content.
How my teenage self would have sneered at this overweight, balding hipster pitifully shielding his diminishing relevance: “Content?! What?! You sell-out!!” Once I would have cowered defensively but now I recognize this kid for the callow bully that he was. I’m partly exasperated at his daftness, partly in awe of his uncompromised ideals, undiluted by the universal solvent: reality. Was that really me? Thus, I find myself not resenting ‘the youth’ but instead charmed, sometimes frustrated, but mostly inspired by their antics. I’m sure this comes across as condescending and patronising, despite my feelings being heartfelt and sincere – one of the hazards of cross-generational conversation, I suppose. Oh well.
Being so wretchedly old and lazy, I rarely go to gigs. I prefer to spend the evenings lounging on the chaise longue whilst my beautiful Turkish boy reads aloud from Lautréamont. However, back on the 30th of January there was a reason to harness the horses: Human Combustion Engine were playing at the Fox & Newt. This is the Krautronik side-project of Phil and Mel of Ashtray Navigations. They sit facing each other, on either side of a table full of electronics, and perform an almost motionless game of knob-twiddling space-chess whilst filling the room with prostate-tickling throbs. Great.
Their presence on this bill was somewhat odd because the rest of it was made up of *cough/splutter* actual bands, many members of which appeared comfortably young enough to be my children. To be re-immersed in this crowd was as refreshing as a slap in the face and my favourite of these acts was Etai Keshiki.
Firstly: they act the part. D (guitar, vocals) spent most of the set hovering a foot above the stage, toes pointed towards the floor. Kayleigh (vocals, weevil) crouched on her haunches bellowing and screaming. The lyrics were entirely unintelligible to me, of course (that might be an age thing too – long gone are my teenage skate-mutie days when I thought nothing of following the lyric sheet through Napalm Death’s Scum). At one point inbetween songs she stopped, blagged a tissue from the audience, blew her nose into it, then showed us the contents. Charming (it was!). They look like a live action version of a band from Love and Rockets comic.
Secondly: they sound the part too. Tight but not rigid, this band understand that even in the thrashiest, screamiest punk there needs to be room to move around. The rhythm section of Rob (drums) and Tony (bass) have exactly the right loose-limbed style for this stuff. Play too stiff and all you have is some dreadful metal variant, play like Etai and you have the rolling, queasy heaviness of early Butthole Surfers. They are self-described as dadacore and screamno, in case you were wondering.
Anyway, I was smitten. After the gig I had a look around the internet, found their Bandcamp page and downloaded the (freely available) album above. It is terrific – just as dynamic and furious as the live show. In my newfound role as patron of the arts I felt duty bound to purchase a physical copy too. It arrived a fortnight later, very carefully wrapped in this (click to enlarge):
…and accompanied by a note written on the back of a flyer for the gig mentioned above. They sheepishly apologised for the delay in getting it to me. This was caused by them spending my payment on food then having to wait until some other form of income refilled the tank before they could post the tape. Heh, heh – kids today, eh?
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