Thursday, June 16, 2011

Utech Records Music Festival - A Retrospective (Part II)


James Plotkin & John Mueller
As a doom metal fanatic, of course I've heard of James Plotkin, whose discography and studio work could fill bookshelves, but before this show I found myself unfamiliar with Milwaukee local Jon Mueller, who takes care of drums and electronics in the video. With Plotkin's ever-changing discography, ranging from drone/doom metal to avant-garde noise rock to ambiance, I was completely unsure as to what this set would be. A mix of harsh, glitching noise, guitar drones, rumbling bass and pounding (albeit awkwardly timed) drums shook the entire venue. Of course, I'm not very into this sort of noise, but I was impressed at the sheer volume Plotkin and Mueller had attained, and I could feel the noise within my ears. Have you ever felt sound in your ear? It's rather surreal.

View the full post for more video, pictures, and live reviews.


No video just yet - need to find a website that will host the entire thing.

House of Low Culture with James Plotkin
Ah yes, House of Low Culture. A few years ago I was super into anything Aaron Turner touched (admittedly, I'm still a huge ISIS fan), but I never found myself listening to this now-solo endeavor. Joined on the stage by his wife Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer on guitar and James Plotkin on laptop noise, the audience was lulled into a false sense of security with Turner's ambient noise mixed with Coloccia's post-rock-like guitars. This calm, ambient music descended into harsh, fierce guitar attacks, Plotkin's signature angry noise and Turner's extremely distorted roars. I wasn't entirely sure what to think of this, especially after hearing the very calm "Ice Mole" track off of their split with Mamiffer, but this exercise in musical duality, harsh and calm, was definitely interesting. Maybe I'll have to listen to some more House of Low Culture to entirely understand what was going on here.


Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer
We here at The Inarguable love Mamiffer, enough to even declare that Mare Decendrii is one of my favorite albums of this past year. Going into the show, I sort of was expecting Faith Coloccia's piano-led, post-rock influenced modern classical style and, though I was sorely mistaken, I was still very impressed with Mamiffer's set. Beginning with an excerpt of a previously recorded Mamiffer tune, this set explored various noise textures, melodic guitar tones, and perhaps the most interesting rhythm section ever. Travis, the man with the briefcase, scrapes bricks with a mortar smoother, shakes bells in a tin tray, and smacks the very briefcase with white chains, creating monstrous sounds with the certainty of an oncoming storm. While noisy and entirely unlike recorded material, Mamiffer's overall ethereal feel was still intact and, upon ending with vocal tradeoffs between Coloccia and Turner, I found myself entirely satisfied with this performance and excited to see them the following Monday. I actually ended up grabbing their limited split with House of Low Culture (the second one, not the "Uncrossing/Ice Mole" split) and the gorgeously packaged split with Demian Johnston. $18 well spent, eh?


A. Foisy of Locrian
It is amazing to see how much Locrian has grown since I first saw them in late 2007, and they've only gotten better. It would appear that every time I see them their live show has gotten more intense and interesting, which is, of course, a good thing. After some technical difficulties (Terence's microphone wasn't working), guitarist Andre exploded into a blistering black metal riff, not unlike one you might have heard on their Territories album. When eventually joined by Terence's highly-reverbed wails and thick, uncompromising synthesizer something entirely unexpected happened. Steven Hess started blast beating!
T. Hannum and Steven Hess of Locrian
After seeing him perform more abstract percussive parts or a thick, pounding beat, I was rather surprised and elated to see Steven do much faster music, truly solidifying him as one of the most talented drummers in the experimental scene. Having a much shorter set than normal (the fest was running late), Locrian went into a "The Crystal World/Elevations and Depths" medley, of which I've seen quite a few times live. Upon the first gigantic distorted chord hit in "Elevations and Depths," a group of spotlights burst from the darkness, adding to the extreme intensity of the end of their set. Brilliant as always, Locrian is definitely one of the most unique and powerful live bands in Chicago, if not the United States, and is very much deserving of your praise.


Jenks Miller of Horseback
Jenks Miller's Horseback has definitely earned its place as one of my favorite current metal bands, not only because of its infectious catchiness and talented composition, but because Jenks is a close personal friend and a gigantic music nerd like myself. Horseback was actually a deciding factor for my attendance to this fest, so I would like to thank Jenks for indirectly opening my eyes to so many fantastic projects. Because their set was cut short, much like Locrian's, Horseback abandoned their initial plans of performing a "noise" set for something different and, admittedly, a hell of a lot cooler.
Yes, Horseback played the first three songs off of their acclaimed The Invisible Mountain, and, might I add, they did perfectly. Every band member's presence was incredibly powerful, and not a single note was out of place. The entire audience bobbed their heads along to the (very intense) drummer's and bassist's locked grooves as Miller and his live guitarist (I wish I had caught his name) traded Eastern-tinged Americana doom leads. I had dreamed of seeing this album live and Horseback's set was everything I had hoped for. Here's hoping Horseback comes to Chicago next time, or plays the next Utechfest (????).

1 comment:

  1. Really wish I could've attended this Jon, sounds like it was an absolute blast. It would've been nice to speak with you in person as well, maybe another show/time!


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