Thursday, 28 February 2013

Hit & Run presents: Machinedrum @ NQ Live, 04.02.13

Machinedrum is one of those rare, sickeningly talented musicians who seem to be able to effortlessly churn out great work in any manner they see fit, which is fantastic for bass music fans. On 4th February it proved most beneficial to those attending Hit & Run, Manchester's long-standing stalwart of bass-heavy beats, where Machinedrum (aka Travis Stewart) came to town for a rare live set.

I travelled through incredibly torrential rain to reach the steps down to NQ Live. As can often be the case with cutting edge Manchester nights (and it pains me to say this), it was a bit of a disappointing turn-out – although I would bet they could have doubled the attendance had the heavens stayed closed. Fortunately enough, everyone in attendance was very much up for a dance.

I walked into the final funked-out tunes of Brunks and Naked Swing – these guys have been pushing boundaries with their night Heavy Rain and have big things planned for future months. Next up was Jonny Dub, Lord of Hoya:Hoya and arguably the most versatile DJ in Manchester – this man could make waves in a vacuum! He packed a full trip round the houses into his hour set, keeping a high level of energy throughout and with heavy hip hop beats lurking round every corner. Top, top stuff.

Before the main man was to step up it was the turn of Now Wave to take control. Manchester's boundary pushing gig promoters, as it transpired, aren't too shabby on the decks either; hammering it right from the start with the Mak & Pasteman remix of Disclosure's ‘What’s in your head’ and taking an 808 house-y slant to their set, with splashes of Swamp and a drizzle of Dusky.

By the time Machinedrum gets started the crowd is fevered and clustered around the barriers. It has to be noted that even if Hit & Run sell a night to 50 per cent capacity, you'll always find them crammed into the front 10 per cent of the venue. 808 kicks rang heavy on the Neuron Soundsystem in an attempt to force them back but the exhilaration was too much. Machinedrum's set piqued their excitement and had the floor bouncing. Playing out on an Akai MPC sampler and a midi keyboard, all linked up to Ableton, it allowed a seamless presentation of his music, from selections of his album Room(s) through to his more recent JETS collaboration with Jimmy Edgar. It’s always refreshing to see a producer whose ‘live performance’ is a little more than hunching over his laptop and appearing to check emails for an hour, and this ticked the right boxes; full of energy and interaction with the crowd.

I left sweaty and satisfied with what I had seen, Machinedrum has definitely been one of the top shows in recent months of Hit & Run, although they have much more to come in future months; including shows with Cyril Hahn. I'm definitely glad I braved the storms to get down.

Words & photography: Gary Brown, GB Multimedia.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Swing Dance Collective Presents @ Kraak, 17.02.13

How ironic that the organisers are titled the Swing Dance Collective, conjuring up images from the ‘30s when a band was more likely to comprise a brass section than a guitarist, and everyone wore the group’s uniform. Tonight’s event is a maelstrom of furious intensity, plus a more unusual type of uniform.

First up are Bad Grammar, a duo comprising of Lucy Brown on drums and Ben Forrester on guitar. Forrester has a voice that at times resembles Dave Grohl’s, as fiery riffs bounce around. At this time of the weekend, a Sunday night, most people are winding down in preparation for a return to work the next day, but they let fly with a fairly brutal display that clears any lethargy.

The more unusual uniforms are worn by Alpha Male Tea Party. Looking like they have walked from a crime scene, Tom Peters (guitar), Ben Griffiths (bass) and Chapman (drums) are dressed in all white, zip up radiation suits. Or it could be a giant condom. As they invite people closer to the stage they do apologise for the smell. Well they have played the last few nights in Hartlepool, Northampton, Liverpool (their home town) and now Manchester in the same outfits which they acknowledge as being drenched in sweat. Plus some other types of fluids.

Loud and proud in performance, the recent gigs have allowed the trio to develop their harmonies and timing in an intense manner. How apt for times like these that a band should have a song titled ‘Tastes Like Dog’, presumably recorded in a more prescient moment. They announce that they have some CDs on sale but after their tour the only change they have is in the form of “Durex Pleasuremax or Euros”. I’m not sure how well that went down with the parents of one band member, who were in the audience.

A second band from the west end of the M62 is Vasco Da Gama, who comprise of John Crawford, Chris Lynn, David Kelly and Joe Falconer. With a more intricate weave of sounds, full of stop-start arrangements and intricate guitar works, they more than keep their followers here tonight entertained.

Axes close the night, which is probably a good thing as I think they arrive 15 minutes before they go onstage. They are almost a distillation of the three bands that precede them; loud, vibrant and entertaining. The stage is barely able to contain the four-piece as the front three move across the stage furiously attacking their guitars with a swinging (yes, I know) onslaught of strings to provide a suitably fiery climax to a swinging night.

Words & photography: Ged Camera.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Our first issue of 2013 will be distributed next week, but if you can't wait to get your mits on a copy then take a peek at the online version. As ever, you will find copies far and wide in the independent traders of the Manchester area. Below are a few tasters of the artwork in this issue, courtesy of Manchester's Dan Birkbeck.

We'd like to thank all our supporters for this issue (in page order):

Battery Park Juice Bar.
The Eighth Day Shop & Cafe.
Épicerie Ludo.
Pokusevski's Deli & Cafe.
The Nook & Cranny.
The Font, NWS.

Outstanding Beers.
Marble Beers.
The Jackalope.
The Hillary Step.
The Whim Wham Cafe.

Ken Foster's Cycle Logic. (10% off see magazine advert for info.)
World Of Superheroes.
Loren Fetterman Custom Tattoo Artist.
Kagyu Ling Buddhist Centre.

Fuel Cafe Bar.
The Font, Fallowfield.

Wowie Zowie.
WR Audio.
The Deaf Institute.
Manchester Academy.

Insight Film Festival.
Jackdaw Social / TFFT Live.

Agapanthus Interiors.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Épicerie Ludo: Pancakes and Presents

Situated amidst the Beech Road boutiques, Épicerie Ludo is now looking forward to the new year – its second full year as a focal point of Chorlton’s specialist food market.

Under the dedicated management of owner Ludovic Piot (Ludo for short), the ever-helpful staff offer a personal touch reminiscent of a bygone era before supermarket delis.

Ludo, as a keen advocate of local produce and quality foods, also stocks a range of regional specialities, including Marble and Red Willow bottled ales, jams and chutneys such as Chorlton Honey, a range of cheeses, fresh bread, and spiced saucisson (including wild boar and ostrich varieties).

As a self-proclaimed ‘Francunian’, Ludo’s other products are sourced from his native France, creating just the right mix from both sides of the Channel.

Today Ludo is preparing for Shrove Tuesday with a selection of sweet syrups and sugary treats. It’s no secret that the French know how to make their crêpes, so Ludo is well schooled in which products will linger longest on the taste buds before Lent. They also remain open after many food traders have closed for the day, so can cater for your late dash for lemon juice or jams.

There are also truffles, boxes of chocolates, spirits and wines – perfect for your fast approaching Valentine’s Day gifts. For a quirky alternative there are more thoughtful gift ideas, including the ‘You Are My Cup Of Tea’ teabags for tea lovers, provided by Ludo’s trusted supplier, The Tea Shed.

Épicerie Ludo can be found online here, but be sure to pay them a visit at 46 Beech Road, Chorlton, M21 9EG. Opening times are 10am-9pm Monday to Wednesday, 10am-10pm Thursday to Saturday, and 10am-8pm on Sunday.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

ILL @ Fuel Cafe, 20.01.13

“Anyone from the last band fancy a game of spin the bottle?” That’s one attention grabbing way of opening a set. That question was thrown out by one of the five female members of ILL, who are taking part in the first birthday celebrations of the Umbrella Music Group at Fuel.

The set begins with a dense mix of sounds, keyboards, drums, guitars and standalone cymbal creating a seemingly hypnotic, steadily increasing rhythm. The person on her hands and knees is not someone checking for any dodgy cable connections, but is actually Rosanne Robertson, a member of the band who is brushing a microphone around the circumference of the cymbal. It’s safe to say that ILL are not a typical band in that the sound at each performance will always be different, although they will have a structure within which to construct their works.

There seems to be a purpose for everything around the stage area including the cymbal, a large ball bearing and a saw. The saw? There is a German band, Einstürzende Neubauten, who had their moment in the spotlight in the 90s but are still recording today, who are noted for their use of industrial equipment, even pneumatic drills, to create sounds. At the more junior entry level to such artistry, a saw is introduced by Robertson, who slowly draws it across the aforementioned cymbal, adding a sharp feel. It's not a junior hacksaw that one would use for a spot of DIY but one that could have a supporting role in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This one appears blood-free, although that may be by good fortune than intent.

Dense and uncompromising, the focus appears to be on the feel of the music rather than the lyrical sensitivity with shouted words or phrases being the preferred mode of vocal expression, such as: “I want it now!”

Nobody is quite sure when the set has finished, but it all seems to go down well with the crowd tonight, so much so that they want more. Unfortunately, after a short and intense set they don’t have any more songs readily at hand.

Hmmm. That only leaves the question of why the red shoe has been deliberately left atop of the speaker. Is Cinderella in the house?

As ILL announce when they depart, “We are ILL. We wish you well.”

Words & Photography: Ged Camera.