[Cérémönie – live report] JK Flesh & Ramleh – Live – 2/9/2017 – London.


A line of queuing black clad people snakes its way through haberdashery, glinting tchotchke, and choking perfumery on a Saturday night in London. Zone 1 has a new venue and, as noted by the Quietus, the number of venues within this region in the capital has been drastically reduced. Unusually it is Selfridges – yep, that’s right… The thrice voted “Best Department Store in the World” – who have stepped up to the plate and set up the Ultralounge. This is part of their Music Matters project, the intention of which is to “reassert the importance of collective experiences in sound with a series of one-of-a-kind performances held in unexpected venues”.

A noble premise indeed.

Fashion designers and noise aficionados Yang Li & Federico Capalbio, using their merchandise label for a fictional band – Samizdat, have brought together the best of the Japanese and British experimental underground to this space. The previous night consisted of the avant-garde and punishing sonics of Keiji Haino and KK Null but, for Saturday night, the twin assault of Ramleh and JK Flesh have been invited into the blackened bowels of consumerism.

Lit by only a spider’s thread around a risen cuboid, Gary Mundy and Anthony Di Franco tear the leash off of a wretched power electronics hellbeast. As with their name projected onto the screens behind them, emblazoned in bold and uppercase, Ramleh’s music forcefully acquires your unflinching attention. And not flinching is a tough enough feat when their atonal, ear-piercing waves flood the inside of your skull like burning oil fields. This unrelenting brutality finds a lower, grinding gear as Di Franco picks up his bass and crunches a route through your gut and into the bass of your spine. Taking 5 choice cuts ranging from the mid 80s to the turn of this decade, Mundy and Di Franco mainline a cacophonous rage that feels as fresh as it must have when first prised from roaring speakers thirty years ago.

Ramleh

Justin Broadrick has been challenging audiences in many different guises for the past three and a half decades. From Napalm Death to Godflesh and Jesu to Final but it is JK Flesh that feels the most prescient and vital for the here and now. Sporting his uniform white hoody, hiding all but glimpses of eyes, Broadrick is a series of ever rolling shoulders and neck. Pausing only to wrench at his own face as he delivers yet another tide of cataclysmic bass. Layers of enforced confusion and prescribed incoherence neatly slot together to jolt limbs and draw skulls into repetitive, synchronised, approval. It is the sonic equivalent of a time-lapsed Panzer thundering through sludge as the apocalypse draws near. It is the heartbeat of tower blocks and decrepit lifts with failing light strips. It is the sound of social housing being torn down.

This was a night for the few, not the many.

JK Flesh

J.B.

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