|Shock Headed Peters,
Knifeladder, Neither/Neither World, Van D. and Lee
The night begins with a set from Knifeladder, the UKs premier voodoo power electronic outfit. The trio of musicians stand black shirted and black tied. Hunter Barr provides bass, while Andrew Trail adds electronics. Behind them stands John Murphy (percussionist for Death In June amongst others) providing hard and hypnotic rhythms. The sound of Knifeladder is captivating: layers of sound are created from bass and electronics, while various wind instruments and sound devices provide an organic edge. 'Scorched Earth of Black Sin' cries Trail. This isn't for the faint heared listening but Knifeladder's incessant beats have a way of bringing you under their spell. A thunderous, crashing finale ends the set. A new release from Knifeladder is imminent on Operative Records, London's alternative collective label.
The new duo of Van D. and Lee follow with a selection of tracks from their upcoming World Serpent release Songs of Lust and Loathing. The more astute may have grasped the play on Nancy and Lee. It's in their (dark) shadows that Van D.and Lee follow with their brittle, folk pop. They're backed by a bass player but the focus is on the duo with Wendy, dressed tonight in latex appearing the dominant half, singing of bondage and 'Her Desperate Love'. Robert's vocal on Broken Wing even recalls the haunted blues of Nick Cave. However Van D. and Lee sound like the black sheep of the alt.country set. It all makes perfect sense when you know the duo better as Wendy Van Dusen of Neither Neither World, and Robert Lee of Sorrow and the musician behind Spell.
Neither / Neither World followed with their live UK debut. With an extensive back catalogue behind them Neither / Neither World had before elicited comparisons with Death In June and others in the apocalyptic folk genre, and with producing nightmare soundscapes. An early album Tales of True Crime explored the minds of serial killers - still the Spitz's promotional material regarded the Shock Headed Peters as the original serial killer tribute! Neither / Neither World's most recent material the Suicide Notes album featured covers of material from The Cure and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Tonight they sound like an alternative band caught somewhere between bondage pop and goth rock. With her hair in bunches, and dressed provocatively in latex Wendy Van Dusen is an assured performer who when prowling the stage could surely give Garbage and Shirley Manson (and probably Marilyn Manson too) a run for their money.
Over the past few years Shock Headed Peters performances have been quite sporadic. An initial pared down performance at Salon Noir by Karl and David Knight appeared to revive them from the shadows. Since then there's been shows again at Salon Noir, at the Verge, Kentish Town, a one-off with Lydia Lunch, a storming performance at Kosmische, London's Krautrock club but still there's been nothing in the way of new releases.
I've never met Karl Blake but I've spotted him at a number of London shows: performing his customary bass-throb with Current Ninety Three and Sol Invictus, and as a recurrent member of the improvising ensemble Amal Gamal Ensemble. His large frame, and scalding looks appear to belie a friendly and affable fellow. His voice is refined his lyrics poetic and brutal. He is a major talent.
Tonight much of the crowd are here to witness the Shock Headed Peters wayward form of rock music, and no-one goes home disappointed. They are a kick-ass, mean unit of scalding guitar, frenetic percussion and steady bass-throb. Karl's voice varies between spoken word and howling rage. In their own inimitable style they stomp through the Residents 'Blue Rosebuds' and a number of tracks from their extensive back catalogue. And midset they're joined for several songs by a female vocalist including a rock workout of 'Heartbreak Hotel'.
It's all over too quickly though. The bars closed, much of the crowd have already missed their last tube home, but a quick word from Mr Steven Stapleton (of Nurse With Wound) at the side of the stage, and their back for a final rendition of their legendary 'Thumbs of A Murderer'.
Thanks should be bestowed upon Robert Lee for organising the evening, as it delivered a wide range of musical styles from both old and new groups.
Knifeladder - www.knifeladder.com
Karl Blake - www.grayowl.com/karlblake/
Arkkon - http://freespace.virgin.net/arkkon.23/index.htm
Neither/Neither World - www.zoskiasounds.com
Sorrow - www.rosemcdowall.com