This was the very first Sub-Sonic Live at the Garage in London, an event showcasing the very best in emerging new music and heritage acts. The line-up included our favourite Bristolian producer Hyetal alongside secret act The Invisible, as well as the incredible Factory Floor, in the main room. One room of fresh talent is all well and good, but to showcase Nathan Gregory Wilkins in the Discovery Room along with Phonica Records in the Legends Room, and Arnie from Dollop ensured there was love for the eardrums at every turn.
What can we say about good old Mr. David Corney aka Hyetal? This is a man who will give you all the time in the world. It is obvious to say that music is his passion with an abhorrently good understanding for all things related. We ran into The Invisible backstage, front man Dave holding a presence once only normally associated with aristocracy. His large frame bared no resemblance to his humble and highly amusing manner. This is a band that seems to live for the moment. There were no pre-gig anxieties or gestures of pretensions; these are a group of guys, intelligent and intriguing, a delight to meet.
Factory Floor. At first look, you could confuse this three piece for quite serious, head down type chaps. However, once again, preconceptions were of course misconceptions. So laid back were the band (especially considering this was their second gig of the evening) that we could, even 10 minutes before they were due on stage, sit back in the green room for a cup of tea and a right good laugh.
Opening with "Two Different Ways", its electro mantra pounding like the load sequence of some John carpenter themed horror arcade game from the early 80s. That hi-hat cymbal kicks in and the rest of the song falls into place, Gabriel Gurnsey's relentless drumming driving the crescendo forward.
The projected graphics, similar to those used in Factory Floor's online promos, give the eery feel that the audience are trapped in one of the bands videos! The crescendo continues to build and build. Clever tweaks of modulation shift awareness of the electronic noise to and from prominence. It's difficult to tell where on track ends and another begins as Factory Floor force on, but then "Wooden Box" announces itself, with that John Carpenter theme replaced by a similar yet distinct sequence, resembling the alarm of some monstrous self destruct mechanism.
To some this sounds like underground house music, to others arthouse techno, to others a revival of late 80s early 90s shoegaze and industrial. Few outfits have ever managed to make music in these genres without becoming too formulaic, but the relentless improvised ethics of Factory Floor ensures this doesn't happen. Undoubtedly one of the most exciting new bands on the scene today.
As one audience member remarks, "It's like a wall of sound, it just doesn't stop".
The first live act on the main stage is Hyetal, along with guest vocalist, Alison Garner. Opening with a screaming, soaring synth noise laden "Diamond Islands", Garner's live vocal adds a wonderful extra dimension.
We've been fans of Hyetal since Dot to Dot 2011, but to experience tracks "Phoenix" and "Beach Scene" in a larger room, with a bigger sound system, with its masses of bass is a real treat.
The changeover, allowed time to sample Nathan Gregory Wilkins' wonderfully eclectic tunes in the next room. His laid back, Bohemian choice of tunes, backed up by label mate Johnny Burnip, offered refuge from the bass next door. The quiffs and moustaches of the Discovery Room patrons, adding to the unique edgy but relaxed atmosphere flourishing under the History Clock mind set.
The Invisible, apart from anything else, an incredible looking band, in matching white shirts, would be performing material from their as yet unheard second album.
Leo Taylor's drumming stands out immediately, urgent and sharp, with Tom Herbert's basslines, anything but obvious, describing a heavy yet fragile foundation to the tracks. David Okumu's heavily delayed Telecaster and upper register vocals juxtaposed the rhythm section, and the overall effect is not unlike some of The Cure's mid career songs. The set gets really interesting as it gradually becomes more and more instrumental, when the prog-shoegaze-ambient elements of The Invisible's construction really fuse together into a heated mass.