Since I was DJing at this, the first official 'Strange Club' event, I had no intention of reviewing the bands on tonight - hence the lack of photos. I left before Global Noise Attack came on, Theda I'd seen a few weeks earlier, however, two of the acts were just so damn good I had to share the experience with you dear readers...
Advanced Idea Mechanics
A few years ago I was in a band that was almost named Intelligent Sound Source. Unfortunately, some of the less confident band members felt the name was either too pretentious, too arrogant or possibly both - I disagreed and was disappointed that it was never used. When I saw the name of this Hydra side project, I was reminded of ISS and eager to hear what Advanced Idea Mechanics sounded like. Fortunately, AIM sound as good as their name suggests. They also look great too thanks in no small part to an array of extremely impressive back-projected images that recalled Cabaret Voltaire's famous live visuals. An ambient, beat-less noisescape started their set off in a bold and convincing manner. With one guy fiddling with a laptop (?) in a small flightcase and the other poking digits at the keys of a small plastic keyboard this could have been interminably dull. The reality couldn't have been more different with each subsequent track veering off into unexpected and divergent (but equally compelling) musical territory. One moment it was industrial drum 'n' bass, then turbulent electro, the next it was mad, muscular jazz beats - all layered with elements of noise. This was unconventional, fresh and thrilling. I only hope AIM get more opportunities to perform live and release their imaginative sound on CD.
Originally hailing from the good ol' US of A, Jared Louche has recently abandoned his birthplace and relocated in England. (Proof perhaps that having lots of sun and BIG everything is not a sure fire recipe for a fulfilling life?) Whatever, Louche is a former Chemlab front man and now along with Martin (Pigface) Atkins, Brian Black and Eric (16 Volt) forms Hellbent. But as tonight demonstrated, he still likes to go solo and his short set was part cabaret part gig - mixing hilarious anecdotes of 20 years in the music business and a selection of tracks including some from his last (covers) album Covergirl. I never heard much Chemlab but so never really had the chance to form a strong opinion in any direction. So my expectations were not particularly peaked. This was probably a good thing since I was unexpectedly delighted by this charismatic American. Earlier in the night, Louche had already introduced himself and proved to be a most personable and genuine guy - he immediately won me over. I vowed to stay later than planned to catch his set and was glad I made the effort.
Looking like some totally wasted version of Jon Bon Jovi but sounding more like William Burroughs, this unconventional figure didn't seem to mind that the crowd was relatively small. Indeed, he seemed pleased that they were as happy to listen to his rambling tales of life on the road, with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and KMFDM (and "...all those faggots!" as his put it), as well as hearing some unforgettable renditions of classics by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Iggy and the Stooges and Roxy Music. All the music (bar some during the opening number) was on backing tape and only Jared's vocal was live, but this lack of backing group didn't affect his hold over his audience. Louche twisted around the empty dancefloor stage - a solitary figure backed only by a white sheet. Louche's infectious persona and seasoned entertainer delivery continually drew people away from their tables, the bar and various dark corners, until virtually everyone in the club was crammed around the dancefloor trying to get a peak at this first-rate showman. This became easier when, during an instrumental break in one song, he decided to saunter into the audience and begin dancing with an unsuspecting female. Louche's years on the circuit have given him an effortlessly laid back attitude that was perfectly suited to this intimate underground venue. There were as many laughs from the audience as applause and if this sampling of the UK 'alternative' crowd is anything to go by then, Louche should have no problem settling into his new home. Nice to have ya here, Jared!