Review by John Kennedy for Gig Junkies
The reassuring predictability of any Capsule event (nothing so vulgar or prosaic as just a ‘gig’ about Capsule) will be its…well, unpredictability. And none more so that with this electronica/existential/experimenta triple line-up. Though it did take some getting used to watching congregated punters with pints shuffling politely in to high, wooden box-stall pews surrounded by the austere beauty of St Paul’s neo-classical columns and pediments. A bit like a piss-up watching the courtroom hysteria in Miller’s The Crucible, possibly.
The opening performance came from Ex-Easter Island Head with their extended opus ‘Mallet Guitars Three’. And, to save us all a deal of time and trouble I’m going to quote my self from their last Birmingham gig – ‘This is performance ensemble composition like you’ve never seen and heard before and it is utterly transfixing. Ingenious, intelligent and challenging yet free of affectation or avant-garde proselytising. ‘Mallet Guitars’ lasted about twenty minutes. Four electric guitars are masking-taped to table surfaces. Variously opened tuned – bridge-strung and capoed, predominantly ‘played’ through a variety of timpani mallets and drum sticks both vertically beaten and stroked. The magic comes in with the mantric resonation created by the mallets beating on the guitar bodies. There’s a few gizmo boxes as well obviously, but the exquisite sense of timing and ambient dynamic becomes hypnotically caressing like a kaleidoscope of heavenly gamelans.” (Gig Junkies, 2013).
Even more – within an apposite ecclesiastical context there were nuances of sonorous drowned cathedral tolling bells, dronal dreamscapes and enticing, shimmering El Dorado mirages rippling across lost horizons. Burring throat-mic resonances growled beneath the metronomic, staccato click-clack of tympani mallets as waves of cymbal transitions led to a crescendo of primal percussion like steely blackbirds caught in an electro-magnetic fatal embrace. Honest! You just check them out.
Second band. Grumbling Fur – aka Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan – have been described as…’a potent brew of doomy psychedelia, interspersed with blissful krautrock…’ So, you can be pretty sure there weren’t many laughs to be had during their set. With cello and violin played through a myriad of effects pedals they wove weird skeins of ectoplasmic phantasmagoria in sepulchral Gothereal splendour. Imagine listening to Stars Of The Lid on Ketamine whilst your cat coughs up fur balls stuffed with moths’ teeth.
Like the phantom drone of the WW2 Japanese fighter-pilot’s engine – cursed to be forever air-borne – an archetypal cypher in many a J.G. Ballard novella – Barn Owl’s cryptically Romo/Retro white-noise sonic-scapes equally insinuated in to the subconscious – unaware of their potential to be either, or both, Tangerine dreams or hemlocked nightmares. Byzantine magicalities mingled with elephantine bass-bin ambience. When the house-light fell the stage was consumed by alternating swathes of Inquisitor cardinal blood-red and Caligula manic purple spotlight. Then things began to get loud and very loud. Entropic intrigues for the curiously brave. Going to church will never be the same again – but then it never was before – thank God.
‘Capsule – Crafting Extraordinary Events For Adventurous Audiences.’
Don’t they just…and then some.