Chris McCall's Coreline project is about as bonkers a set up as you can imagine. Since experiencing the insanely brilliant floor show put on at last year's Infest, complete with synchronized dancing cardboard robots and a giant ninja carrot, I've been longing for another dopey dose of this surreal northern genius. My fix came by way of support slot to rising UK industrial outfit Uberbyte in Camden pub the Purple Turtle...
If a genius is someone who has mined a creative seam and explored a topic in so fastidious and enthusiastic a manner possible, and in doing so unveils a creation that in and of itself is a glorious and mighty achievement yet at the same time its creator has no concerns or regard for what any other person may make of it, then Chris McCall is a genius, and the fruit of his endeavours is Coreline. The disjointed, crunchy, chunky, melodic and broken beats of Coreline's musical output initially share the seemingly random collation of attractive components of a magpie's nest, but like the bird's construction skills, the elements used may actually be disparate but the unique way they have been assembled together produces something new but purposeful and successful in its own right.
Take this evening's Coreline performance. Tonight we get the following: music from an Apple laptop remote controlled by a box connected to the laptop with cables; the controller wears a robot costume made predominantly from a cardboard box, constructed with all the finesse of a 5 year old that only just covers his arse; a piece of music during which nothing is played live and the only band member relaxes on a wooden chair reading a novel whilst an unidentified other sporting a red and black diving suit and mask watches on intently, until, that is, they break out into a dance-off; where cardboard cut outs of a red smiling cloud and a Japanese emoticon version of the same are pulled on pieces of string in time to the music over the speakers flanking the stage by people that can be clearly seen; and the set concludes with a rendition of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up during which said former robot, now wearing a dapper short sleeved Hawaiian shirt, genuinely attempts to imitate the impressive voice of the original vocalist but falls woefully, but endearingly, short.
To many this might sound like the evening from hell. To me, and it seems a fair few others, far from being some music abomination, Coreline produces both brilliant music and a stage show that makes Monty Python's most outré sketches look unbearably safe and predictable. This is surrealism applied to music performance and the results are remarkable. I couldn't stop laughing, though it was as much through a sense of affinity as it was laughing at what was being performed. I love Chris McCall for doing what so few people alive choose to do. Do what you love and enjoy what you do. If other people find something of interest in that too - that's great. But do it just for yourself and be contented with your life. Profound and entertaining!
As you may have gathered, I'm a bit of fan of Coreline ;-). So it would have been a surprise if I were able to carry such unbridled enthusiasm over to headliners Uberbyte. Due largely it seems to their live performances, often in some well-secured support slots to bigger scene names like Die Krupps, KiEw, The Cruxshadows and Hocico, and having secured a home at US label (the delightfully named) Crunch Pod, UK industrial stompers Uberbyte are gradually building a solid reputation and following. Having sampled some of their tracks online and finding myself sitting firmly on the fence I nevertheless remained open-minded about their potential. It's satisfying to report that Uberbyte deserve the attention they are garnering in spite of having risen from the remains of Goth rockers Killing Miranda - a band I'd had little love for.
Strictly speaking, Uberbyte is one guy who goes under the moniker 'Uberman', and in the studio he does the lot; but live he is (wisely) accompanied by three drummers (two of whom looked suspiciously like they were miming throughout) and a keyboard player - all wearing matching black and white uniforms. The fact that Uberman knows how to present the project and does so with an obvious playfulness and self-deprecating sense of humour helps immeasurably. This is probably a carry over of the theatrical drama of his Killing Miranda days. The 'socialist meets Dune' styling of their two album covers provides an impressive visual front to the music which, what it lacks in originality, is largely made up for in canny compositional choices and some creative construction.
With a heavy and solid beat backing firmly rooted in the electro industrial side of things augmented by techno and dance elements and vocals which, although gravely are at least intelligible, the finished articles are consistently engaging. So you have the best bits of Suicide Commando, blended quite effectively with a love for Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 into a new package that actually works. Although constantly igniting thoughts of those and other acts (VNV Nation, Cubanate and Grendel) Uberman has made a complete break with his dodgy past and reinvented himself as an engaging front man and composer who demands attention. 7/10