Fütumche – A Healthy Dose of Fear Album Launch
Attrition – In Memoriam Kerri Bowes: 1982 – 2022
The Tin Music and Arts – Coventry – 26th February
So for one night only we get the the new album launched by Fütumche, a memorial show for Kerri Bowes by the Institution that is Attrition and a set by newcomers Tuff Chowy. Fighting Boredom reckoned this was a night to be at, see if we were right below.
Tuff Chowy are a male playing guitar and a female playing synths. The guitar is twangy and clear over a relentless ongoing beat. It sounds quirky and odd. The music is strangely alluring. The vibrations are of a surf murder movie soundtrack, dramatic and cool. The male switches over to a synth and the music disappears into a bass hum and twinkling key notes. The drone rises and synth blasts batter us rising up and down as a howl of electronics threatens to oust the noise completely. This slides back, just in the nick of time, to the sounds of machines communicating.
It wibbles and spurts and the experimental duo are working this sound very well. They are both bent over their synths to create a soundscape of flowing metal and electrical fields dancing. Like two robots kissing and their circuits overloading with pleasure.
It slides back into a slow steady drone and feel but the drive behind it has turned menacing, the synth is making me feel like covert agents sliding through crumbling red brick alleyways with shadowy figures barely made out at the end of them. The surf guitar comes back and the waves of synthesized sound breaks over our heads. It rises and massive blasts of bass are broken open and then stalled, it’s turned into broken techno as colossal space liners collide over exploding suns and the very nearly coherent noise fades down again.
The guitar turns into epic desert rock and it feels infinitely sad and alone, the synth adds a hint of lunacy as you find yourself under the stars dancing below the moon. Shifting into almost a hurdy-gurdy carnival feel and I’m thinking of Clive Barker’s parade of monsters in the Books of Blood. This rises to a crescendo of guitar and noise the hits you in the long forgotten reptile brain and then they are gone.
If you want an indication of how long Martin Bowes has been making music as Attrition you don’t need to go any further than the merch table. I counted twenty three different CDs and a pile of vinyl albums that are all different too. I also know that that isn’t everything they have released. He is a long standing musician and this is, I am quite embarrassed to say, the first time I have ever seen them live. This performance is a tribute to Kerri Bowes who passed earlier this year. They are playing the soundtrack recording that she co-wrote, Invocation.
The build up to the music is slow and subtle. They rise from an electronic hole and as the sound gets clearer people flock into the room. A slamming burst of bass drone marks the noise rising. A buzzing leads to the steady powerful synth powerfully taking over. It’s immediately mesmerising and very very good. There’s a tiny melody playing over grumbling, nasty swathes of electronics which leads to a throbbing overpowering organism that slowly morphs into view and then envelopes everything in its path. Simon is playing a Theremin to create God alone knows what noises as Martin tries his odd woodwind instrument, shakes his head and fiddles with wires. He has total focus as he plays and creates but it looks like things are slightly flakey. Luckily this is in no way reflected in the sound. The tiny subtleties underneath and woven into the rise and rise of the synthesizers that make this music so very good.
It’s giving me images of industrial wastelands and cracked, broken concrete landscapes. There are burnt out neon tubes trying to light and what sounds like artfully crafted wild predators on the move towards you. The sound is low and terrifying. A battered nursery rhyme echoes around you as you sprint away from the throbbing, relentless terror. It goes quiet and then builds up again, quietly and slowly. A choir is singing behind a broken, iron barred window. A wind is lowing, hot radioactive and dusty, blowing and spreading death and misery as it goes. It dies down and trembling, a hiss rises to a whine of feedback and rattling broken speaker hiss. Martin blows into the instrument and the sound is like a dinosaur coming for us. The hum gets stronger and harder, the separate noises merge into one and it grows harder into a sound that feels like it could split this building in half. Violence is brewing in the music, someone is going to get hurt. This music can crumble concrete and combust wood. It’s an excellent, fitting tribute.
Fütumche are onstage, Jaz is saying something but it’s lost to me, quite possibly just nonsense. They start the third set of the night off the same way that the others did, with a slow rising noise, the difference being that this time it’s bass, guitars and drums, to be honest I’m not even sure they have started or are just warming themselves up. It’s probably the latter, you don’t play like Fütumche without a minor readjustment of your mind and a good few stretches and joint cracks. Then there’s a burst of static, ‘Hello we’re Fütumche’ and they are off. The riff is kind of majestic in the way that people think Zeppelin were but it’s harder and less, well, shit. They immediately pop into a spikey post punk punk a go go vibe and then rip up any effort at time signatures and coherence to play as Fütumche always have done, with ultimate style and panache.
They burn slowly as angular as a broken protractor, they play metal riffs with punk attitude and then layer on the sound. The vocals are split between Jaz and Steve but the focus is on Jaz, he’s the one that moves to the front of the stage, he’s the one that engages with the crowd, admittedly to tell them to ‘Shut the Fuck up!’ and he’s the one bathed in green light that holds your focus. Yet his bass is only part of this musical, strange puzzle. Steve plays like a cross between Mike Watt and Jimmy Page. Holds down the noise and adds the extra strangeness of the synth. But behind all that, shirt unbuttoned, is the heart of the weird, Brandon plays like a madman and never ever drops that beat, he seems focused on something just outside of our understanding and he never ever stops.
They fade down and then slam into a hard as nails Fugazi feeling burning song. The groove is infectious, I’m dancing at the back and the kids are pummeling each other at the front. The sound is solid and skips from a pure hardcore chorus to a post hardcore verse. It’s music to vent frustrations to and this week has been full of frustration. The breaks in the music are for snatched breaths and clarity before it drags you back to it’s level and you are floundering in a sea of what the actual…
They kind of feel like Minutemen crossed with Led Zeppelin, well, at least for the thirty seconds before I scribbled that in my notebook. What they actually feel like are a bunch of weirdos from an English city brought up on every kind of music you can possibly think of and throwing all of that out of the window to create this beautiful madness. Then, just as you are recovering from the last unexpected twist and turn they seem to embrace afro-beat and my feet are moving of their own accord again. I’ve written a lot more notes but I’m kind of writing this on instinct now, they play whatever they want to play and the fact that we are even in the building seems irrelevant. They would play this to a field full of rabbits if they could. The Punky Prog section frazzles whatever cells left inside my head are firing properly and everything suddenly makes perfect sense.
The stop start and the high cool guitar, the spiked up punk chorus and the so far away from the mainstream it’s almost back on the trail of the top 40 feeling. The constant swearing at the crowd between the songs, the grins on the audience’s faces. It’s an album launch that is also a triumphant return to the stage for a band that haven’t performed for a couple of years. It’s a brilliant set and summed up so well by Jaz ‘ Stop that, stop that, I don’t like cheering.’ Looks like he might have to get used to it.
All words by Adrian Bloxham, all pictures by Martin Ward.