Last week I said we'd be organising regular bonus content when we hit 20 paid subscribers, and whilst we aren't there yet, I wanted to get something out to you fine people who jumped on board immediately and supported us. Thank you.
Initially I was going to write a little something about a video game I've been playing lately (maybe next time), but after seeing the band MY DISCO last night, I decided to write about that instead. Their most recent album Environment just dropped, so track that down on spotify if that’s a thing you do, or otherwise listen to their last album Severe at bandcamp while you read on. Play it loud.
MY DISCO, 2nd of March, Melbourne show at the Geddes Lane Ballroom
I've seen loud bands before. I've seen noisy bands before. I've seen Guitar Wolf live - a band who, prior to the film Wild Zero turning them into a cult phenomenon, were mostly known in the West for being That Japanese Band You Don't Loan Amps To. I've seen future of the left multiple times. (I've seen plenty of heavier bands, but these 2 were probably the noisiest.) I've seen the Dillinger Escape Plan. I thought I had been assaulted by a wall of noise, but every other live show I've seen pales in comparison to the set performed by MY DISCO.
I have never before been physically struck by sound to the point where I have flinched. It happened not once but twice during the one song - a song fittingly titled King Sound. Any time I have previously talked about being 'assaulted' or 'assailed' by sound, I was unknowingly lying, because I have never felt music to this extent before.
Every bar of music was so precise, and so precise in its brutal force, it was as though it had been drafted by architects, but with the visceral power of a construction foreman breaking ground with heavy machinery. The word I want to use is 'industrial', but that would probably put you in mind of Throbbing Gristle or Nine Inch Nails, and those comparisons hold no water. It's Ballardian music - sheer force, inhuman sound but with a very human fetishism in the creation, performance, and witnessing. This was three obviously hugely talented musicians performing precise aural destruction on a wrapt and silent crowd. In the moments of quiet, eerie drone, there was no drunken chatter, no narcissistic whooping, nothing but eagerness for the next second (and the distant thud of a bassline coming from the night club next door, but such is inner-city live music).
And that quiet, eerie drone I mentioned? The set wasn't a non-stop hour-long barrage of sound - it was mostly that, but not entirely. At about the middle point of the set the drummer had an extended solo, the first half of which consisted of gentle reverberating cymbals that gave way to such ferocity and brutality it was like he was attacking the drumkit in a violent revenge killing.
And the aural battering was contrasted by the sheer simplicity of their stage decoration. They had one long fluorescent tube sitting just behind and above the drummer’s head, and a data projector shining light on a thick fog that hung over the venue and obscured the band from view. It was simple, stark, and utterly effective. (The above image was taken from their twitter feed - I wouldn’t even bother trying to get a photo on my old, ailing phone.)
MY DISCO sound like former musicians who gave it up to become priests at a temple dedicated to some dead elder god of pure noise, and every time they touch their instruments its in an effort to manifest that dread entity. And maybe that sounds like breathless hyperbole from a sci-fi writer, but there's also truth to it. The show was an almost religious experience. The sound was so utterly powerful it felt like it was penetrating my flesh. It was purifying. It was cathartic. It was catharsis I desperately needed at the end of a week of awful depression. The final song in their set began with a sample of rainfall and it was gentle, but it was visceral too - it was a sound I could feel, washing away the accretion of shit that had clogged up my soul. After taking a ten minute detour through their precise and brutal sound, the rainfall returned and I had been so utterly swept up in the song I had forgotten about the rain. Hearing it again was glorious.
That's what I mean by "religious experience". And I grew up in the church, so I don't use those words lightly. These three people create a temple of sound, and a temple to sound.
I walked out of the venue completely stunned. That usual underwater feeling after coming out of a gig was inexplicably absent (it was a new venue, so maybe their sound equipment was just that good, or maybe I'm old enough to have destroyed enough of my hearing at previous gigs that it's not an issue). It must have taken me close to an hour to get home, on foot and on tram. I didn't bother putting my headphones in and listening to anything. I was too stunned. No other sound could have compared anyway.
I'm sure to some people, what I’ve described above sounds awful. I'm almost glad I was at the show alone, because I don't know if any of my local friends would have appreciated it. But if the above sounds, if nothing else, interesting, then you should check MY DISCO out. If you're in Fremantle, Castlemaine, Adelaide, or London (they’ll be playing at Raw Power), you should see them live. But maybe take ear plugs.