Whirling Hall Of Knives
The Workman’s Club, Dublin
17th February 2018
Justin Broadrick has been a part of the music Fighting Boredom loves for as long as we can remember. From Godflesh to Jesu, Techno Animal to Council Estate Electronics he has always created music that is worth hunting down. Last year he created music with The Bug, both as Zonal and remixing The Bug vs Earth album. There were releases by Godflesh and JK Flesh, both excellent, and now a new EP from JK Flesh. When he announced live dates Fighting Boredom decided that we weren’t going to miss them and a weekend in Dublin was in order, well, we didn’t need passports, and so we are here next to the River Liffey waiting for Justin to do what he does best.
It’s a great room for a show, it’s red with black panels, the stage is framed with red velvet curtains and the tables have candles in red jars. We arrive via another bus journey into the unknown. When you don’t know where you are, where you have been or where you are going it’s all a bit unknown. There are a few people inside, there are two tables of cables and laptops onstage, one behind the other. People sit and wait.
Whirling Ball of Knives stand behind their table full of wires and boxes and start their noise. There’s a high pulsing whine that syncs seamlessly into bass and static muffled beats that grow and build around the room. Which is filling up, fast. The sound shifts to a hard, bass driven electro and then into a techno beat with electronic screams leaking out over the music. The feeling is harsh but not abrasive, the surface of the sound is polished and smooth as the two of them manipulate and move the sound around. I stand back and let the sound wash over me as the people in front dance away. There’s a nasty, jarring guitar sample spiking as the beat rolls on, they surge into very very loud techno repeating over and over and the noise grows.
There is more static and more fuzz bass with the odd sampled vocal from the microphones on the table, shouted, sampled and looped over and over into obscurity.
It’s harsh, spiky techno. The beats get faster and fade into a bass drone then kick off again then fades, until it’s built up a full head of fuzzy messy bass and monstrous techno beats with a deep dark humming under it all. It feels like the equipment should be sparking and smoking with the nastiness of the beats as they close the set.
JK Flesh takes the stage with his head covered by a white hoodie. He is in darkness and with a screeching whine of feedback the set starts. The noise grows and grows and builds slowly up into brutal, slamming squelchy beats. It’s alarming and mesmerising as the bass rattles your teeth and the high strange noises threaten your sanity. It repeats and just continues. Justin is absorbed in his music, his whole body is moving as he conjures up this sound. The squelching beats shift as electro samples smash around the room, and the noise moves forward further. The whole room is moving now. This is a step on from the feedback and static drenched JK Flesh sets and releases from before, this is the sound of people dancing as it all collapses around you, it’s the feeling of the bass and beats as the brick dust rises and the buildings fall. The water’s flood the plains and the last dance before the end when all is still. This sounds like Humanity’s last stand.
The music is emotive with an electro edge. The bass slips into a dub slither and the beats move around, trying to mesh with the rest of it. It pulses back and forth and again you expect the equipment on the table to start melting with the effort of keeping up this glorious sound. Huge synth laden pulses shudder around us, the bass slides under them and a simple primitive beat is juxtaposed with the strange scratching samples attacking the edge of the music. The sound slips again into another beat, clear and loud as more samples swirl around.
This isn’t just post-industrial or post-electro, this is Post-|Everything, Justin is taking apart my notions of techno, electro and drum and bass. He has deconstructed his feedback and droning JK Flesh beginnings and ended up in a concrete and steel wasteland of sound that makes you dance like there is nothing else.
Then as you are completely captured by the beat he spits out massive Godflesh guitars and static over the top of the bass, obliterating everything, making you wait for the drums to start again and the dance to continue, until he lets it fade and die.
A set to travel to another country for. JK Flesh just killed it. Fantastic.
All Pictures by Martin Ward.
All words by Adrian Bloxham.