Real Live Action


w/ Leviathans, Nam Shub, Drainolith, and Fieldhead

VIVO Media Arts Centre; February 3, 2012

by Anthony Meza

Monarch | photo by Steve Louie
Monarch | photo by Steve Louie

Quiet City provided an eclectic noise experience on the evening of Feb. 3. The account of what transpired will be conveyed to you in five equal parts. The night was one of visionary abstraction and chaotic scrying achieved through the granularity of sound combined with melody, voice, instrument and video.

Fieldhead, Paul Elam originally from Leeds, who now lives in Vancouver, brought a calm determinism. It was raining gray on the windows as we passed trees, forests and fields. Washes of distorted static with pops and cracks in the meter of a burning log, some electronic fireplace brought a simulacrum of warmth to the cold precipitation. The down-tempo beat proceeded, a schizophrenic acousmatic metronome in slow motion. The beats were broken, reminiscent of the desolation of winter, a season that steps out of time.

Drainolith, Alexander Moskos of AIDS WOLF, who resides in Montreal and recently came off tour with Nate Young of Wolf Eyes, roared an analog outsider death-blues rattle. We had to put in our earplugs for what seemed like Jandek at 78 rpms. A torpid and predatory affair, he made this sound with only a guitar and a primitive drum machine, like a snake shedding its skin against a rock, slowly and deliberately. We were lost in the discomfort here among the dust.

William Young, Scotty Boe, Caton Diab and Matthew Bryan Harris are Nam Shub who, along with visuals by Jim Carrico, provided an incantation from Sumer. Did this one dematerialize language? As euphoric ambiance was divined from bowed guitar, laptop and distorted vocals, we saw the invisible dark matter of the universe made into light. A perspective on time, flocks of birds and the industrial trance all emerged from a pounding drum kit lifting into a celestial psychedelia.

Leviathans, consisting of Larissa Loyva, Brady Cranfield and Josh Rose, brought us into a world of doom. What was it? A sea monster? Was she wearing niqab? Why were they piling all those chairs in the center? This was some nihilistic ceremony. He was destroying his bass guitar while playing it, pulling off the strings as the body was crushed beneath his feet. This was metal. Doom. Howling and searing screams entered with force. I wasn’t sure if I should have expected roses or Kalashnikovs or both.

Finally, Monarch, a collaboration between Kate Rissiek of Rusalka and brutal noise generator, Taskmaster, destroyed. Orange and black butterflies consumed milkweed, which contain cyanogenic glycosides, cardiac poisons that accumulate in small sacs to deter and/or kill their predators. Or were they cruel and decadent autocratic heads of state? It was harsh, powerful, toxic noise. With austere authority they pushed air, a cacophony of beating wings, crown, thrones from a still center of darkness.