|Triptych festival with Pan
Sonic, Liars, and Wire
Triptych is a great Scottish festival that straddles three cities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow) over a week or so with an eclectic selection of inspiring and innovative music. There was so much to catch at the Mute showcase but you can only be in one hall at a time, and as a result we missed a lot, and were especially miffed at missing Carter Tutti, even though it was only a DJ set.
Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen stand impassioned behind a bank of electronic contraptions. There's very little to watch unless you're taken by Vainio's 70s Euro cool look or Vaisanen's flat cap. Only the screens suspended behind them flicker with life. This sets the scene for a rare Scottish appearance from the Finnish noise terrorists Pan Sonic. Their rhythmic electronic noise plummets to new depths. It's a physical thing which takes on an ambient noise feel, although a hardy bunch of audience members attempt to dance to the spliced beats and stuttered rhythms. The obtuse rhythms remind tonight of Cabaret Voltaire, and the occasional blast of electro-noise echoes the early industrial assaults of Throbbing Gristle. They're either on a retro trip or this was a dress rehearsal of their planned set for cancelled RE-TG event, the celebration of industrial music in the 21st century. It remains, as always, a pervasive and persuasive minimal presentation with maximum effect.
There's an extrovert showman in Angus Andrew, frontman of US guitar-funk outfit Liars. How else can you explain the dress and tiger's tail he's wearing tonight. Perhaps they're wardrobe discards from girlfriend Karen O, lead singer of hipper-than-hip outfit the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Liars make great avant-funk-noise. They Threw Me In A Trench and Stuck A Monument On Top was certainly one of the highlights of last year from the current crop of US guitar bands. The way Andrew prowls the stage with his craggy features and straggly hair are reminiscent of Nick Cave fronting the Birthday Party and Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers. Liars showcase their latest album They Were Wrong So We Drowned, an experimental concept album based on the folklore of witches, encompassing folktales to witch trials, with atonal guitar, hyper rhythms and a general anything goes attitude. Where they go next is anyone's guess but their mixture of avant-funk-noise certainly enthralled a vast proportion of the Glasgow crowd.
Liars appear to be on the cusp of something. There's a keen sense of anticipation but here's hoping that their showmanship can be kept in check, as a 'pop' record isn't out of the frame.
Wire's involvement in the Mute showcase is apparently only third excursion north of the border for Wire in their 25 year history. If true, it's a criminal oversight based on this evening's performance.
Now residing on their own Pink Flag imprint Send (and the preceding Read and Burn volumes) have provided caustic renderings of the finest guitar noise. It's from these discs Wire cull their set replacing their customary angular guitar sound with ferocity and much, much volume. As a band, and with individual members well into their fifth decade, they look like a serious bunch of art school lecturers. Oh, we could go on about how influential they've been but Wire's embracing of technology and their ability to harness it ensure they remain current. There's more than 25 years between Pink Flag and Send but both remain vital deconstructions of rock'n'roll.
Colin Newman's imparts snatches of disjointed lyrics in his London accented voice, and opts for some open chorded guitar playing during 'The Art of Stopping. The muscular frame of Graham Lewis maintains the Wire poise with solid bass throb. Bruce Gilbert lurks in the shadows, motionless, delivering precise and perfect guitar. Robert Gotobed propels the constant buzz with minimalist rhythm.
After numerous art venue performances (London Orbital, Only Connect) I'm relieved to actually witness Wire up-close again and they remain a muscular tour de force. Days after my ears were still reeling. The fierce rendering of Send is so vibrant, and so powerful it more than justifies Wire's continued existence. They've an enviable back catalogue behind them that once could feel short-changed that it wasn't mined tonight. Only a handful of numbers from Pink Flag were resurrected, and the title track was revived for a much anticipated encore - but I'm happy for a complete overview of the Wire oeuvre to occur next time they venture north
Liars - www.liarsliarsliars.com
Pan Sonic - www.mute.com/pansonic/index.html
Wire - www.posteverything.com
Mute - www.mute.com
Triptych - www.triptych04.com