Live London #9: Aaron Dilloway, Nate Young & Family Battle Snake
Aaron Dilloway + Nate young + Family Battle Snake
The Grosvenor, Southwark, London. 07.04.09
I’m early. Very Early. I arrive via a series of narrow streets imprisoned by low-rise council housing, vague and colourless against the spring sky. The coarse mixed concrete canopy rests in soviet shapes above my wooden seat. An old lady projects a stream of water through an impossibly narrow third storey window and onto the welcoming depth of her balcony garden; the green a relief against the grey. I sip a cold beer and think about my great uncle who passed away late last night after all his fading organs finally abandoned hope of any further effort.
Aaron Dilloway is a pivotal figure in the noise scene, and has been since the explosion of Wolf Eyes – a band that managed to cross over into chain stores and national press. He runs the consistently intriguing Hanson Records, and has also released a handsome number of solo/collab efforts on CD, tape and wax. Nate is also a former member of Wolf Eyes, performs under Hatred, and is one half of Demons. He has produced some savage artwork, which has been printed, on his own AA Records. His journey through the dark side has led him to collaborate with Zac Davis and Dylan Nyoukis, to name but a few. Family Battle Snake is one-man-drone-machine Bill Kouligas. He is one of the few drone artists to truly understand the intricacies of tonal play and has performed many astonishing sets. He runs the glorious PAN label, releasing his own music plus outings from Andy Ortmann and Mark Durgan.
The crowd is strong and a mix of baseball caps, beards and black t-shirts. I stand at the back, huddled like an underground commuter, becoming all too familiar with the back of a stranger’s head. First up is Family Battle Snake. The set begins with a house loop, drenched in fuzz. The repetition continues as drones are woven into the mix. The bass is so forceful I can feel my trousers moving, and can see the hair follicles of my intimate stranger reverberating double. A mirage of melody pitches itself above an underlying din, droning with a booming whale-song of deeply moving properties. More rhythms enter with welcome derision. This is definitely one of the more pounding sets I’ve seen by FBS. His evolving tides hit some beautiful tones and as things grind to a halt I am left wanting more.
I have finally found an oasis of space and a resting place for my notepad. I am treated to harsh disbanded noise that rattles and bounds with discord and clatter. Screeching menace interjects with Young’s trademark ferocity. The warbling horror soundtrack is gifted by rare vocals that seer with a lurching similar to Dave Phillips at his best. The poetry feels guided by the din, as my ears are driven to destruction in this small black room in South London. Some incredibly horrid low frequencies manipulate one’s thorax and strangle the gullet with invisible, tepid fingers. Abandoned phone-lines and buzzing bass fuse with a kinetic element that has many a longhaired figure thrashes their head towards the source.
Dilloway is sat in a cheap chair, with a dainty table supporting an array of equipment, including a real-to-real tape player and mixer. A two-thirds full pint of Guinness tides with frequent frantic grabs from its host. Between these infrequent sips Dilloway delivers a mind blowing and inspiring set of rough terrain analogue destruction. A white tape spews its innards, only to be re-consumed creating a tough loop of richly textured drone. Coarse tones are manipulated through his mixer with energetic and angry hands. Dilloway has two small mics in the corners of his mouth. He breathes and chants filth through these sodden units appearing as a snake charmer hypnotising the sensuous movements of the vomited tape. He generates an infectious beat that has the crowd in uncoordinated motion, all tripping to a filthy rhythm of their own finding. The many layered aspects of Dilloway’s music build fragile sediment that breaks off in unexpected lumps that his audience can interpret in various dimensions. Amidst the orange glow a gold glint glistens via his wedding ring as he delivers a full bodied motion, through to his dextrous fingers, to harness total terror. He is a musician at the height of his powers, and I look forward to seeing him perform again very soon.
-- Peter Taylor (15 April, 2009)