Slimelight, London, UK – 05/10/2014
The true ingenuity behind the return of the seminal Canadian tribal/industrial outfit iVardensphere to London is not instantly apparent. Juggernaut Service’s Nick Quarm made sure behind the scenes, however, that this wasn’t just another trivial Saturday show filled with the usual pedestrian crowd pleasers. Instead, the night’s lineup consisted of the label’s very own loud and uncompromising Tapewyrm, Cease2Xist, System: FX, and Ruinizer. This already impressive set was then extended into the early morning hours by ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) and Mono No Aware, making for a lengthy endurance run through the genre’s most danceable, most riveting, and most abrasive soundscapes.
The live debut of Michael Drayven’s cacophonous musical entity Tapewyrm caught everyone by surprise. The opening performance of the evening did not spare any eardrums as Drayven proceeded to unravel the tapestry of glitch-laden caustic textures. His material from the act’s latest EP, House of Cards, proved to be a fitting stimuli for the arriving audience, setting the tone for the rest of the evening’s noisy proceedings. It was truly joyful to discover, buried under the avalanche of fizzling distortions, the riveting melody of Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us,” which turned “Careless” into a surprising dance floor hit. Tapewyrm launched in a spectacular fashion as proven by the enthusiastic ovation from the crowd that was definitely shocked by the weight and the grit of the music, yet embraced it without a hint of reservations.
After a brief break, the stage was invaded by Jay Ruin and Dayve Yates, performing together two separate sets under the two different stage monikers, both congregating under the same principal. Ruin embraced the split personality of his past and current project giving a final send off to the long defunct CeDigest by way of Ruinizer, launched last year with the excellent Mechanical Exhumation of the Antichrist
. And since both of these acts embrace the most primeval and untameable of musical currents, his set turned out to be one continuous and truly unstoppable assault of angst, chaos, and demented energy exemplified not only by Ruin’s manic presence but also the initial technical difficulties that, in all fairness, transformed Runizer’s set into an unpredictable vortex of noisy emotions. The songs from his latest release swayed the mood ever so slightly with the dynamic beats, angry anthemic choruses, and shrieking passages of “Technoprisoners,” but Ruinizer vs. CeDigest seemed to appeal to those impulses that are not connected to reason but rather pure and undiluted madness. And it was all the better for it.
The tempo had to slow down eventually, even if only just a notch, and once the instruments and the positions were swapped, Cease2Xist shifted the course of the show towards sharp and precise EBM beats, accented by reverberating guitar riffs and Yates’ angry vocals. New songs from the recent EP like “WIYGN?” consisted of the same familiar penchant for the truly caustic vocalization that worked brilliantly in the accusing, blasphemous context of that particular song. Cease2Xist continues to balance its propensity for dynamic four-on-the-floor derived electronic mayhem with the punk-esque quality of the live instruments and attitude. No wonder then that Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna be Your Dog” did not feel entirely out of place, and instead brought together the rock & roll spirit with the digital hooks, making this a resonant and enjoyable incarnation of a well known classic. Although Cease2Xist was one man down, the act had no restraints and continued its whizzing industrial offensive to the enjoyment of the audience.
System: FX was the last of the supporting acts and hidden behind the yellow tape strung across the edge of the stage, the act has indeed turned it into a crime scene, riddled with the violence of speeding electronica, potent guitar work, and the pronounced and savage voice of Steve Alton. Songs like “We Are the Broken” positioned the band on the same musical pole that’s been occupied by the likes of Be My Enemy for some time now, nourishing the fans with the crisp breakbeat background, intensified through the dynamism and the weight of the obvious metal influences. Yet all of it is cogent and sporadically in the service of much more melodic and pacing rhythms like that of the “WTF.” System: FX manages to support the tradition of not only the genre niche that the band occupies, but also the wider and grander propensity of the British electronic scene. Still, the act thrived on the decidedly heavier, rip-roaring spectrum of sounds providing the long anticipated iVardensphere with a fertile ground for an imminent sonic destruction.
To hear Scott Fox and his ensemble of drummers live is to tap into something purely elemental and shiver-inducing. His sudden arrival and his lonely positioning at the back of the stage hidden behind a cloak of static noise projected from across the venue was but a moment of quiet before the storm. Joined by the rest of his live lineup, with Jamie Blacker of ESA leading the charge from the front, iVardensphere opened with the expected aplomb. The recent The Methuselah Tree
was a source of several highlights of the entire set with “Bloodline” elevating the pulse thanks to, in equal measure, its dynamic current and the abundance of gritty electronica. The live rendition of “The Doorway” was nothing short of legendary with the rhythm exemplified by the verve of Blacker’s instrument heist that had him suddenly invade Daemonikus’ drums. As an act, iVardensphere might be a silent and almost ponderous presence, but the charisma built on the sheer power of the music was definitely accounted for. It was a set of constant and palpable flow of pounding tribal rhythms and the inherent physical susceptibility to the band’s sound was apparent among the audience. In this sense, any hope of crescendo or further escalation might have seemed impossible, but iVardensphere’s creative zest had Marco Visconti pick up a guitar and, in a stroke of genius, unleash Sepultura’s Roots
-era classic upon the unsuspecting fans.
Fulfilling as it was, the night was far from over, even if the gig proper has finished with Fox’s descent from the stage. Slimelight continued the party until the break of dawn. Jamie Blacker’s ESA provided the hardcore audience with a thoughtful and intense encore as compositions like “With This Cold Kiss I Will Wound” lost none of their excellence outside the intimacy of headphones and familiar surroundings, perhaps even gaining more dazzling and thrilling immediacy, a sensation continued beyond the point of a total physical exhaustion by the equally uncompromising Mono No Aware.
Less a show and more a mini-festival featuring the UK’s hungriest and noisiest acts, iVardensphere’s gig in London was a powerful example of raw energy, buried under the debris of collapsing industrial creativity. but always ready to be unleashed and absorbed by the artist and fans alike. Juggernaut Services managed to deliver a balanced and cohesive lineup that built up gradually towards the impossibly infectious verve of the night’s headliners; kudos for that!
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)
Juggernaut Music Group Website http://www.juggernautmusic.co.uk
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