Improvisers who play with themselves run the risk of disappearing up their own arses. Infinite Light was infinitely better improvising with a couple of other musicians at a Rowf Rowf Rowf night than he is alone. Barry plays guitar and yelps. It's a hell of a lot less abrasive than his old band Stuckometer but has similar lack of mass appeal, which is a good thing. He turns sideways from the sparse audience most of the time, and makes noodly runs of a more melodic and spacious bent than his former quartet who operated sporadically in his absence. His singing is cosmically comical, like a castrato choirboy sobbing wordless disgust at the butchery perpetrated upon his gonads.
There are no words in A Wake, just two lovers in a guitar fuck. They walk off stage early and turn their backs on the still sparse audience, presumably to check everything is sounding alright. Nick and Fliss run Golden Lab Recordings, perhaps the longest running underground gig promoters in Manchester? Now they're burning up time with feedback and fret worry. They start out noisy but it gels latterly when Fliss hits repetition and Nick starts blasting out a scorching Neil Young style solo. But who died this time?
A few more people have turned up during their set, including a friend who tells me he only heard the gig was happening when he looked at the Drag City website to check Six Organs of Admittance tour dates. I knew about it because Nita who does PR for Magik Markers sends me gig list emails. Perhaps there would have been a few more bodies in The Mill if promoters Lamb and Wolf had made a few flyers and posters and bothered to run an email list as opposed to just relying on Rupert Murdoch to give them free advertising? The first time Magik Markers played in Manchester, at a house in Levenshulme, there were so many people crammed in it seemed like the floor would collapse. I think only half a dozen people who attended that gig also turned up at this one. This time I could drag an armchair to the middle of the Mill and get an unobstructed view.
The Magik trio start out with a long dirgey song that I've never heard before. Their music lurks in the shadow of Sonic Youth, who love them. Elisa sings off key, but not as annoyingly as Kim Gordon sometimes does; a bit cutesy and a bit whiny, but not excessively so. She plays some satisfyingly scarifying guitar scrunch, throwing skinny shapes. I didn't recognise much of the music, so I guess they've already left their recent "Balf Quarry" album behind in favour of new noise. They're too cool to encore, like a lot of other smaller bands who don't seem to play for long enough after travelling half way around the world. I know if I went to another continent I'd want to play at least an hour of music. Why not just play all day?
The next day I went to see Therapy? at Club Academy. Ticket price was twice that of Magik Markers, but set was about twice as long and they were a hell of a lot more fun. This was the first time I'd seen them since their "Troublegum" album tours, so it was a nice surprise that they played a lot of old favourites. Opening with "Punishment Kiss" and "Meat Abstract" from their first and best record "Babyteeth" was a fine blast of sonic freedom. Andy Cairns and Michael McKeegan still bounce about with the energy of screamagers, and the songs from the new album "Crooked Timber" held up well against the likes of "Fantasy Bag," "Nausea," "Turn," "Opal Mantra" and "Innocent X." After their merry metal cover of Joy Division's "Isolation" I got in a heckle when Michael asked how everyone was feeling. It brought a smile to his face when I shouted, "I feel it closing in!" (a lyric to "Digital" by Joy Division, understand?). Now that they'd made us happy, Therapy? were themselves happy to play an encore and I wasn't too surprised to hear "Potato Junkie" again, with everyone shouting "James Joyce is fuckin' my sister!" like the nineties revival happened yesterday. Inevitably "Teethgrinder" came out to play, and I was wearing the Teethgrinder T-shirt Andy gave me years ago. A fan told me these shirts go for quite a bit on ebay, so hats off to the insane! Ticket number 369 in the raffle won nothing but a good night out.