The early arrivals were rewarded with an excellent set of beat driven electronica from Drill Folly, who displayed a love of the pile-driving 4/4 techno with some always interesting noise at the frayed edges of her compositions. Horn samples and spoken word parts all combined to create an ambiance that wouldn’t feel out of place on Kompakt Records.
As promised in advance, Nope’s performance is dedicated entirely to their nearly 30-minute track ‘Walker’, the centrepiece of their underrated album of the same name, released last year. We are treated to two drummers that never felt superfluous, which is especially true during the cymbal rains of the band’s quieter moments, providing the atmospheric accompaniment to some wandering two-necked guitar leads. The band excels in their louder moments, riding guitar hook to guitar hook, while the drums boisterously anchor the performance. With the natural delineation between sections of the song we’d be surprised if the casual observer realised it was one piece.
Nissenenmondai’s gradual and subtle development on record has seen them slowly remove the extraneous parts of their music until they have reached a point of clean, ultra-minimal, tech-krautrock that at times feels more like a scientific experiment than a band. It’s like the world’s most austere project manager has arrived and 6-sigma’d the concept of music itself. They are so easy to admire, more disciplined and patient than the hook-up band of Mark E Smith’s dreams, their repetitions are brought to life by moments of human emotion; a hi-hat hit slightly harder, perhaps foreboding a time change to come, or a bass riff moving fractionally faster. It has the effect of making the audience uncomfortable; our brains are hard-wired to act predictively, to assist us with our everyday life, but despite the calming effect of the recurring nature of this music, every minor change acts as a jolt to the nervous system. It makes a mockery of those words synonymous with krautrock: hypnotic and enveloping, as they become tense and rejecting. They spend the entire set edging the audience towards a pressure release that never comes. A form of delayed gratification that forces you to focus on the method rather than the result.
The intellectual analysis wasn’t likely to have satisfied the glowsticks in the air crowd, while it likely felt divine to the beard strokers. As someone who has a foot in both camps, it’s hard not to feel that they haven’t lost something by filtering out the noise and occasional melody of previous work, yet they remain an utterly fascinating spectacle that is completely worthy of anyone’s time.