Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's A Gas

Experimental Dental School/Even Atlas/Dream Dreams The Dreamer, It's Just Noise @The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham, Tuesday May 12 2009, 9pm.

An ominous start to the evening when on arrival at the venue there appeared to be no-one about other than the extremely pleasant girl on boffo duties. A quiet start, then, soon to be interrupted by Dream Dreams The Dreamer the new project by Matt Snowden (ex-Esquilax, Doom Patrol), that has developed into a 'sonic orchestra' specialising in experimental, droning post-rock of some portent. When it worked it was pretty terrific, but there was also a few longeurs where your chin-stroking correspondent didn't seem to be the only one shifting about a bit uncomfortably. And while we more than welcome the re-introduction of the trombone into the modern rock canon, we struggled to discern the point if it could rarely be heard above the squalling guitars?

Even Atlas represented something of a shift towards more conventional rock tropes, although with enough of a healthy whiff of pretension (not to mention some discernible Radiohead and Fugazi influences) to keep the serious-minded music fan from frothing in their pint at the hint of a tune. Was an interesting and enjoyable set, but perhaps a bit too eclectic for their own good in terms of a particular style or song really sticking in the mind on first listen. A work in progress, then, but worth keeping an eye on.

Capping these two local noiseniks were Portland, Oregon's Experimental Dental School here on touring duties to promote their second album 'Forest Field', which can be downloaded in total for free from their official site. This is probably a good a way as any of getting a grip on their sound, which is reassuringly difficult to define in these subgenre-heavy times, although their own LastFM blurb as 'really nerdy, dirty jazz punk' is probably as good a stab at it as we could muster, with bruising riffs and gentle noodling establishing an uneasy but eventually pleasing friction.

Something had to give sooner or later, though, and eventually it proved to be Jesse's bass string. He asked for any comedians to make themselves known (a dangerous call in Brum pubs, in our experience) to plug the gap, and right on cue a rogueish-looking gent lurched on stage who just happened to have reams of his own poetry stuffed in his back pocket. Things soon went went back from bard to verse, however, with bass string fixed and the experimental tooth doc tutors resuming their rumbling brilliance to a stirring conclusion. Leaving the only gripe from tonight that such a fine band and a well-drilled bill by It's Just Noise didn't tempt more second-citizens out on an otherwise humdrum Tuesday evening.

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