Liverpool Music Week : Blanck Mass, Bonnacons of Doom and Dialect – 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool, UK (31st October 2017)

With Halloween seemingly a week long event these days, there was a sense of fatigue in the air at the prospect of yet another themed night. Americanised, bastardised and milked dry, a big chunk of the ‘spooktacular’ fun to be had took place over the weekend. But on Halloween night itself there was only one place to be as 24 Kitchen Street played host to some dark, experimental sounds on day six of Liverpool Music Week featuring local artist Dialect, a special performance by Bonnacons of Doom Electric Mantra Band and headliner Blanck Mass.

After a slight delay due to the sound check overrunning, the doors were opened a little later than advertised. First up was the sound sculptor Dialect. Otherwise known as Andrew Hunt, he may be familiar to some as the frontman of Outfit. His solo work however, is very very different to the indie pop five-piece. Blending field recordings with guitar and synth effects, his performance also featured a flatscreen TV hooked up to a laptop which played a selection of overlapping videos and sounds taken from social media that included talking parrots, among other things. His slowly shifting 30-minute set began in eerie fashion, then became quite silly and playful, before transitioning into something bordering on blissful.

Liverpool’s favourite drone rock collective Bonnacons of Doom provided those in attendance with a show stealing performance that could not have been more perfectly suited to Halloween night. Numbering around seven members, with a few more possibly hidden away in the darkness, they arrived on stage dressed in hooded black robes, with the drummers and guitarists all wearing convex mirror masks. They brought half an hour of enthralling, Pagan-inspired theatrics featuring doom-laden guitars, tribal drumming and mantra-like chanting from their four vocalists, led by the superb Kate Smith.

One half of the experimental electronica duo Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power began making music as Blanck Mass in 2010, releasing one EP and three full-length albums to date. With a range of influences that includes Mogwai, John Carpenter, Tim Hecker and Carl Sagan, Power blends together post-rock, drone, ambient and multiple forms of electronica into an incredibly visceral and multi-layered sound that contains a fascinating mix of sweetness and brutality.

Accompanied by an intense visual display, it was a relentless sonic assault from beginning to end which also featured the addition of some screamo vocals and a bit of barricade climbing during an opening salvo that included ‘The Rat’ and ‘Rhesus Negative’. Largely performing material from his latest album, the ambitious and diverse ‘World Eater’, even the more low key tracks like ‘Please’ and ‘Silent Treatment’ were transformed into bass heavy monsters. However, nothing could quite match the industrial-flavoured horror house of ‘Dead Format’.

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