As usual Le Guess Who? has a lot to offer for enthusiasts of noise and experimental rock. From the wildly innovative, deeply unsettling or just immensely loud, bands all across this genre have made their way to Utrecht to wreak havoc this weekend. Primary among them on this Friday are the freewheeling spacerock of Moon Relay from Norway and the Irish menace Girl Band with the honours of properly ending the night going to the mighty Lightning Bolt.
Text: Wybren Nauta // Photography: Erik Luyten & Rogier Boogaard
It doesn’t take long for nervous sweats to set in when trying to characterize the instrumental music of Moon Relay. Their amalgam of psychedelic spacerock, jazzy mathrock and layers of heavy dub and breakbeat contains elements of all, while being impossible to reduce to just one. It sounds most like Spacemen 3 stepped into the wrong club on a Friday night, got hold of some pep and decided to run with it and just have some fun. And that is precisely what their music is above all else, fun. Rather than being bogged down by their many styles and sounds, Moon Relay manages to take these relatively complex influences and produce something deceptively catchy. Long fuzzy psych-laden jams simmer on slowly grooving forward sounding akin to fellow Scandinavian psych rockers The Dead Skeletons, complete with stark visual lines rotating across the stage. Just as a groove is about to wear out its welcome they throw in some heavy bass lines, another incalculable guitar lead or an absolutely demented organ. It’s a freaky ride from start to finish, their eclectic mix of elements never running out of potential curve balls. Describing an act as having a little something for everyone normally tends to be more of a warning sign of either horrendously generic or unfocused music. Moon Relay manages to break this mold by delivering an instrumentally tight and sonically exhilarating performance.
Although fun might not exactly be the right way to describe Girl Band, exhilarating certainly is. The band centered around frontman Dara Kiely has recently resurfaced after a two year hiatus with their new album The Talkies. Sounding every bit as menacing as their last effort Holding Hands With Jamie the Irishmen have traded in some of their signature noise for a more understated, but equally haunting and dissonant experience. Though there were definite questions about how they would translate this style to the big stage and, maybe even more important if the big Ronda wasn’t one size too large for their frenetic brand of noise rock. Isn’t Girl Band the type of band you need to see in a barely lit cellar to truly capture the essence of their maniacal energy? The short answer, no. As soon as Kiely’s growls kick in and the first capricious guitar tones fill the Ronda it becomes immediately apparent that they’re every bit as frightening and mesmerizing as any kind of dark cellar or basement. New single Shoulderblades fits in perfectly, devolving into demented screams about the two-faced man, Ed Mordake, and pounding bass lines without losing any momentum. The tension builds ever so slowly during all these tracks until finally culminating in fan favourites Why They Hide Their Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage? and the brilliantly frantic Paul. It’s a definitive statement that Girl Band can play anywhere at any time and still remain simultaneously one of the most unsettling and wild bands on the face of the planet.
Read more articles of this edition of Le Guess Who? on our website:
- LGW2019: Industrial grooves and psychedelic sounds – Exploring The Bug’s Thursday curation at Le Guess Who 2019?
- LGW2019: The Sweet Release of Death & blissful noise
- LGW2019: Who needs eardrums anyway? Lightning Bolts addictively destructive party at the end of the world
- LGW2019: Timeless post-punk in a packed Pandora with The Raincoats