GNOD / MAI MAI MAI / SUNSHINE | LIVE REVIEW
The Moon, Cardiff, Thurs 8 June
On an election day marked by downpours of biblical proportions, a few of us do at least get a brief glimpse of sunshine – Sunshine the band, that is. But sadly even that brief glimpse feels like an eternity. After weeks of political campaigning, no one wants to witness yet another unseemly squabble between warring factions with no coherent narrative. And yet that’s what we’re presented with, in the form of a vocalist who crawls around the stage screaming intermittently, a bassist who runs through his favourite riffs while hiding in a hoodie and a drummer whose percussive accompaniment is random at best. Envelope-pushing drone-metal experimentalism is all fine and well, but the trio need to recognise that it’s primarily through the effective combination of different elements that music gets its power.
Power is something that Mai Mai Mai’s music certainly isn’t lacking. A small table laden with electronic gadgetry (and a lit candle) provides him with all he needs to conjure up bowel-loosening bass, crunching jackboot marching rhythms and the malevolent buzzing of a billion vindictive wasps. Whether the black hood he’s wearing (complete with a pink snake-like Gene Simmons tongue, in cloth) is that of an executioner, his victim or a gimp is unclear, but either way he’s a suitably sinister harbinger of doom – or, in other words, of the anticipated five more years of Tory rule, and with an increased majority.
But what’s this? The exit poll is apparently predicting significant Tory losses and unexpected gains for a Labour Party that has shifted back to the left under Jeremy Corbyn. Could it be that the electorate has actually paid heed to the unequivocal title of Gnod’s latest LP, Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine? Tonight’s headliners are a multi-headed outfit who regularly venture out of party HQ (the Islington Mill in Salford) and around the country, hitting the campaign trail hard. They’re rather more likely to terrify babies than kiss them, though.
Psych bands who appear to owe no debt whatsoever to Black Sabbath are rarer than pro-Corbyn headlines in the Daily Mail, but Gnod are just such a beast. Instead, they take the repetitive tropes of Krautrock, boil them down to their base elements (sometimes just a single sludgy chord) and create music that hits with all of the metronomic force of a sledgehammer. Their robotic bludgeon – ripped to the gills on the aggression of hardcore, which is etched on wild-eyed guitarist Paddy Shine’s face – is perhaps best exemplified by Bodies For Money, the first track to stir up a moshpit. (Incidentally, I’ve never been to a venue where the bar staff take it in turns to crowdsurf.) The final song in particular locks into a fearsome groove that threatens to hold us hostage indefinitely.
But this is very much a case of Stockholm syndrome. We arrived as floating voters and leave as card-carrying, placard-waving converts to Gnod’s cause. They may be destined to remain for the few rather than the many, but the few became more numerous tonight.
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos IAN FRASER / TERRASCOPE ONLINE