Babyslave at the Nightmare Rave

December 14, 2007 at 6:56 pm (Blogroll, Uncategorized)

There is something touchingly perfect about the conflation of the English holiday camp in midwinter and the kind of confrontational, experimental music associated with All Tomorrow’s Parties. The experience at Butlins in Minehead this year was given added poignancy by the death two days before of the arch obscurantist German Composer from the Dog Star, Sirius, Karlheinz Stockhausen. His name and demise was barely mentioned, but his invisible spirit could be discerned by those in the know, haunting the chalets and alleys of the proletarian pleasure ground, confused by the noises erupting from multiple stages, so different to the instructions he gave, even to some of his more productive disciples – two members of Can, for a start, whose spirit was so much more in evidence in the morphing play of Oneida or the very real presence of Damo Suzuki and even as a trace, but only as a trace, in the sonic ministrations of the rocking antiquarian Saint Julian of Cope.

The Babyslave camp had mixed feelings about some of the acts for sure, but there was a general sense of Portishead having curated with great skill and taste. Sunno)))) were simply stunning in their theatricality and interminably sustained sub-bass mantras. Chrome Hoof were astonishing – a hybrid of metal, acid house and the performativity of Earth, Wind and Fire, Machine has rarely been so excited by a live act. The Horrors were joyfully silly, Malcolm Middleton joyfully misanthropic, Aphex Twin drove out the second and third nights with inspired piece of DJ landscaping that kept the throng dancing dancing dancing, and Seasick Steve and Thurston were the delights you would expect. And then Portishead themselves, showed they had lost nothing and gained depth and strength over the past ten years.

Difficult to fault – aside perhaps from the transport. And the wind was wild. And the beer was weak. And the newspaper selection was limited. But as an unannounced tribute to and absolute perversion of everything Stockhausen once stood for, it was perfectly exquisite.

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