The Cube cinema is a venue worthy of many accolades; it’s a jewel in Bristol’s crown. The homely, intimate atmosphere and fixed cinema seating makes for a highbrow experience watching film or live music alike; in a city of beer-soaked standing room only venues, this is a point-of-difference that is most welcome.
High Places / Hysterical Injury / Hesomagari – 17.02.12
The Cube’s live music events tend to offer eclecticism united by a theme, directly or otherwise; and a night of duos that promises much could hardly have been conceived, or indeed executed, better than this great evening. The choice line-up, punctuated by a thematic DJ set in the bar area, manages to cater for all tastes, whilst revelling in its own universality. Line-ups like this form a songlike journey of their own, sticking in the memory, making The Cube feel every bit as unique as its independent, volunteer run status makes it a special place to be.
Hesomagari are Yoshino Shigihara (Zun Zun Egui) & SJ Esau. Their ambient, organic sound squeezes every drop from an impressive DIY electronic skill-set, with psychedelic overtones complimented by mesmeric visuals on the big screen. They have the distinct ability to leave an audience happy with raw and enchanting, slow-burning alt anthemia.
The Hysterical Injury always threaten to steal the show with their sublime brand of ultra catchy noise-pop. The bass & vox/drums Gardiner siblings now have enough shows under their belt to embrace their visceral, improvisational side to the full. With an ability to turn both nagging political angst and personal epiphanies into concise hook laden sonic reveries; they have as much in common with outside-of-the-box electronic pop, as they do with comparisons that are more obvious.
High Places epitomise a certain well-informed coolness that plants one foot in angular European warehouse artistry, and the other on the open American highway. Robert Barber is technically perfect in the beat department and exceptionally sweet natured in his appreciation of audience and venue alike. Mary Pearson shares his skill using their sequencing gadgetry and floats subtle vocal lines into the mix with lark-like ease, creating heavenly electro havens for beach day bliss, neon L.A. nights, and silhouette cinema shows.
Ore / Anta / Fairhorns / Skjølbrot – 25.02.12
Fairhorns sees Matt Loveridge blasting out a crowd-friendly set of keys led electronic revelry. It’s an original, high-impact procession of furious beats and hyper hooks set off by distorted vocals that can’t mask the natural talent beneath the fuzz.
Skjølbrot’s minimalist eerie computerised visions fit perhaps into the installation sound art bracket more comfortably than they do the live music scene, but at The Cube anything goes, and it’s a relief that only a small minority seem to feel alienated by the alien fractured sonic view of a contained and powerful industrial shipping world.
Anta tend to blow people away with their brand of Bo Hansson meets King Crimson prog rock, and tonight is no exception. Showmanship comes from the band as a whole in a smoothly rendered exhibition of muscular rhythm, cyclical melody and mythical riffing that steers well clear of pastiche. Waiting for the effortless signature changes is a joy in itself.
Ore are a ‘drone doom’ tuba duo, who tonight turn trio with the addition of contrabass clarinet. It’s a surprisingly quiet and meditative set, but one that’s experimental enough to be captivating and melodic enough to be relaxing. Subtly looped key clicks are dotted between episodic ultra-slow grooves and sporadic improvising. There’s also a cover of Earth’s ‘Ouroboros is Broken’, a homage to the like-minded Seattle guitar band. You pays your money and you takes your choice – if you want to talk, the bar is in that direction.
There’s many a musical connection to be ponder between these four diverse acts, but what really makes the night is a sense of atmosphere, it’s all highly cinematic, and very apt.
Peppered throughout The Cube’s superbly selected listings are music events that read like proper nights out. The next full on gig night on the 10th of March sees twee pioneer Kansas’ Piney Gir in 60s surf mode, headlining over the happiest band on the planet, Poppy Perezz from electro-la-la-land, and Bristol riot folk three-piece Drunken Butterfly. The Lipstick on Your Collar DJs will then assist limb wangling and camaraderie. A fun sounding girls’ night out, for girls and boys too, few would disagree.
For a filmic foray into the early world of British electronic music, check out the Ian Helliwell documentary ‘Practical Electronica’ on the 23rd of March. The film focuses on F.C. Judd, whose sci-fi scores of the 50s and 60s are still influential and relevant today.