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Wolf Eyes - Bardens Boudoir, London, 7/12/2006

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 7 / 1 / 2007

Wolf Eyes - Bardens Boudoir, London, 7/12/2006


At Bardens Boudoir in London, Chris O' Toole finds 'noise' act Wolf Eyes' abrasive brand of audio terorism an exhilarating and unique experience

Questions will always be asked about ‘noise’, especially those not acquainted with the finer points of the genre. Why would somebody willingly submit themselves to an aural endurance contest, albeit with an increasing number of willing contestants, but with no prize, no reward and most importantly no chorus ? How can this be music ? Where is the entertainment or enjoyment in this bludgeoning ? For the uninitiated, at least, noise events seem to batter the senses, leaving one disorientated, vulnerable and exposed. This is perhaps why Whitehouse’s Peter Sotos is a leading light in the genre; noise being one of the few genres in which he can combine his twin paedophilic and aural experimentation urges into a form of sonic sexual assault. In answer I would off two defences of noise. The first is perspective. Seeking the outer edges of recorded sound allows the listener to determine the shape and context of all sound. To find and test the boundaries or what is creatable, regardless of whether or not it is listenable, illuminates the sounds of everyday life and gives an understanding of their meaning. By merely concentrating on a single genre, or even a single artist, music listeners limit their understanding. The second defence is catharsis. Whilst for some it is enough to sing into a hair brush in front of the mirror for others nothing else satisfies more than the awesome destructive power of the full sensory disorientation provided by noise, annihilating the rigours of the day and returning the listener to a state of audio purity. Whilst Wolf Eyes never approach the heights scoured by Whitehouse, the pioneers and leaders of the genre, they still present a threatening live prospect. Their latest album, 'Human Animal'¸ is challenging enough in the comfort of an end-of-terrace property in a leafy London suburb, so in the flesh the band seem like a modern day Golgotha. Still, in thief defence, I went willingly to my own sacrifice. The fear created by the prospect of seeing them live is enhanced by Barden's Boudoir, which has the presence has of a Roman amphitheatre. The stage is surrounded on three sides by seating stretching to the ceiling, filled with a crowd baying for blood, and completed by a large dance/killing floor in the centre. Into the midst of this expectant crowd stride Wolf Eyes, immediately launching into their "hit" 'Stabbed in the Face'. The band's dynamic has changed over the years; previously they cowered in the darkened recesses of the rostrum wrapped in an armoury of sound gadgets, seemingly afraid of the monster they were creating and unaware of their audience. Now, however, they confront the spectators head on with menace in their eyes, intermittently screeching into their microphones and shaking their fists; berating, cajoling and threatening. The result is an awesome spectacle. Stripped down to a single synth/sample box each and a myriad of conventional rock instruments (bass, microphone and saxophone) there are no layers between the performers and their audience. Wolf Eyes simply unleash their sonic monster on the crowd, utilising their home made instruments to full effect, regardless of the consequences. The results are rapturous as bodies begin to fly, jaws begin to quiver and ears begin to bleed. As the set progresses Wolf Eyes demonstrate their innate skill in building tension and dissipating it through spectacular release. Gradually they build apprehension; spiralling drones build increasing in frequency and are joined by distorted, tortured instrumentation before the bombs start falling in a cathartic release. During the climax to each song Nate Young, who built the majority of the menacing musical machinery on display during this audio mugging, screams into the microphone with larynx ripping intensity, adding one final poisonous layer to the bulldozer sound. The result is a pulse so loud each member of the band begins to shimmer in the eye of the beholder, and causes everybody present to hear subliminal voices behind them. The opening, then, is a landmark in audio nihilistic audio terrorism. The band wreaks havoc in the room, destroying the ear drums and pretensions of a whole generation of curious haircut wearers. But after this cracks begin to appear. Wolf Eyes begin to run out of steam, dissolving completely into unfathomable power electronic and losing the momentum gained by the more rhythmic tracks. This is compounded when the venue's sound system begins to struggle under the strain, further diluting the impact of the band. Whilst Wolf Eyes naturally required the loudest possible system to satisfy their desires, Barden’s lacks the bite to fulfil their lust. Yet, even during this stroke enduing barrage hardcore Wold Eyes fans punch the air in delight, glee in their eyes, as if they can hear something we cannot; as if they have transcended the barriers of normal existence and reached some higher plateau. As the set draws to a close the feeling is one of cleansing, of shared adventure and victory. By simply surviving one has improved their moral character, but to have savoured these unearthly delights and to have enjoyed them brings the greatest reward. It seems Wolf Eyes are torn between being experimental anti-music, the depths of which are exhaustively explored in their extensive back catalogue, and a face the firing squad with your eyes open rock band, without the guitar solos. Yet, despite this contradiction they provide an exhilarating spectacle, causing the adrenalin to pump at full tilt, even if only for a short time.

Picture Gallery:-
Wolf Eyes - Bardens Boudoir, London, 7/12/2006

Wolf Eyes - Bardens Boudoir, London, 7/12/2006

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