Tuesday, 21 April 2015

White Hills at the Mill

No sooner had I written off Gnod ever picking up guitars again, when three of them did exactly that! Alex Macarte played drums, co-founders Paddy Shine and Chris Haslam played guitars and Marlene Ribeiro bass. Starting with a low volume ambient drone, Chris slowly built up a gathering storm of effects around Marlene's insistent one note bass attack anchor. Paddy walked onto the very low stage after the other three children of Gnod, looking well out of it, and stood before the gathering as if in a trance, intoning mantras about infinity. The noise levels slowly rose reaching an ear-splitting crescendo as Paddy accused, "They have made themselves the lackeys of the rich." Dave Maclean joined them on saxophone for the second psyche-out, and later Paddy dueted with him, switching from guitar to sax. The way Chris was hitting all six guitar strings open fretted suggested he was using an open tuning, and the whole set imploded around few notes wrenched as violently as possible from the guitars, using them for full on rhythmic action. Gnod always change the way they Gnod, so who knows what they'll be playing next time? Maybe they'll wheel the Mill piano in for a little boogie-woogie...?
Despite having listened to "Walks for Motorists" many times before the gig, it was still a bit surprising to see Dave W take the mike with no guitar for the first song in White Hills' set "No Will." The bass line is so forceful and heavy that it seems as if there is a guitar there too, which could explain why they felt there was no need for guitar. Dave was also sans six strigs for "£SD or USB," playing a little synth pad keyboard. He's always born a resemblance to Alice Cooper, but it seemed all the more apparent as he rocked out without a guitar. For most of the set Dave was playing guitar, thankfully not having followed his past collaborators Gnod into a void of guitar avoidance. They played a fair bit of the new album, and with the exception of an incendiary "Condition of Nothing" and "H-p1" the rest of the set was comprised of songs I hadn't heard them play before which was good to hear. Two songs new to me, so I assume they are quite likely new songs, were extremely guitar heavy. Dave expounded on his love of Manchester and luckily Mark E Smith wasn't there to give him corporal punishment for the heinous crime of not doing his geography homework and refering to Salford as Manchester. No one listening gave a shit about that though, and the fact that White Hills had titled the fifty run reissue of "Oddity II" their tour CDR "Night Scene on Mill Mountain" could well have been another Gnod of approval for Islington Mill. Before the gig I'd asked bassist Ego Sensation if there was any chance they could play "Winter," the last track from "So You Are... So You'll Be" but with a new drummer who had yet to learn that drum part it was not to be. "Maybe next tour," she said. I'll look forward to it as its a track I can listen to on 'repeat' for an hour. Nevermind, what they did play sounded as great as ever and it was nice to see that they could free themselves from a reliance on certain mainstays that they'd played every time I'd seen them before this. All anyone could really ask for was a longer set, but for a mere seven quid on the door thanks to promoters Fat Witch (an amalgamation of Beauty Witch and Fat Out 'til you Pass Out) what we got was a bargain. The only gig I'd seen in 2015 that was as good as this was Enblers and Rattle at Gullivers, also for the magick number £7.

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