Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Querelle, Controller.Controller
Barden’s Boudoir, London

Right now, I’m ready to worship Querelle. No one else seems to have lifted the best bits from two of my favourite bands – Sonic Youth and Blonde Redhead – and yet can be seen playing a 300 capacity in a basement underneath a carpet shop in Stoke Newington to celebrate their signing with the Sink and Stove record label. So it’s incredibly frustrating that whoever took their soundcheck tonight doesn’t seem to hold them in such high regard as I do.

And, judging by the mood onstage, it seems that I’m not the only person that has an issue with the muddy sound. Try as they might, there doesn’t seem to be anything that Querelle can do it. Things just aren’t going their way, all the low-end is bouncing back off the ceiling and walls and what should have been a smart, clipped sound is rendered flat and toneless. But even through the sludge, you can hear that there’s something beautiful trying to force its way out. It’s there in the way that ’Nothing Lost Nothing Found’ sounds like an art-rock onslaught on Joy Division’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, all cavernous drumming and a jagged guitar that keeps dipping tantalisingly into feedback without ever quite breaking the boundary that divides music and noise.

Fortunately things go better for their new label-mates, Controller.Controller. On record, they sound like Pretty Girls Make Graves car-jacking Lomax but live they mutate into a deep-down low and nasty ten-legged punk-funk machine intent on turning their crowd into braying slaves to their fidgety staccato rhythm.

Imagine what the Rapture would sound like now if, rather than getting all loved up and trancey, they had followed up ‘Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks’ by filling out their sound and delivering on the promise that the Gang of Four stylings that that song had promised. If, instead of making their songs all polished and shiny, they’d unleashed a barely contained rampant beast and gone on to record the album of adrenaline-fueled disco-punk for which we’d all been hoping. That mythical album would sound just like Controller.Controller.

Not only that, but they’re every bit the real deal live as well. Okay, so the stage isn’t exactly on the large size, but it’s literally seething. Singer Nirmala Basnayake is careening across the front of the stage, shaking her ass to her band’s insidious and infectious rhythms. Behind her, jerking and lurching guitarists are jumping on and off the stage, trying to avoid a drum kit that is being played so hard that it’s bouncing across the stage. The drummer meanwhile, clad in a balaclava and goat mask ensemble, is smashing out the beat on the ceiling.

It’s as if you’re witness to a funk-punk Bacchanalia, there’s nothing that you can do to stop yourself from getting caught up in the heady exuberance of it all. It’s time to give in to the moment and lose all control.

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