Tonight I have the chance to see GNOD live, in the intimate setting of The Peer Hat, tickets only available on the door. Support comes from Errant Monks and Japanese Television, making for a lineup that begs to be witnessed.
I start the night out by meeting a friend for a quick pre-noise pint of dark stout, to really get the pretentious angst relied. I’ve spent the day listening the new Errant Monks album, freshly released on GNOD’s own Tesla Tapes, featuring a remix of new single SDVIG by Simon Crab. There’s nothing I can say about the single that John Doran hasn’t already covered in his review, so read that instead. I have to thank John Doran, and all others at the Quietus for their consistently immaculate recommendations. It would be fair to say that without the Quietus I may never have discovered GNOD, or at least I would’ve stumbled upon them when it’s too late. However, back to Errant Monks. The album is loud, the album is aggressive, the album is disorientating. When track 2 begins (Black Friday), you are welcomed by a bubbling sound that lasts way longer than necessary. It creates that sick feeling in your stomach that you might get when you realise the bubbling could be the over-boiled kettle, or bubbling of the bong hit that was just too much, or the bubbling of blood as you feel your arteries consumed by fatty regret. This album marks the first of five albums to be released over five months. If that doesn’t excite you in the slightest, then you don’t deserve to be blessed with the ability to receive sound.
Errant Monks smash through every expectation of the night. A band impossible to pin down. The bass work keeps a steady flow, along with various tape distortion and laptop/software influenced drum patterns. The key highlight of the set is the backup (if that is right word) singer, who seemingly shouts into one microphone then passes another across an amp giving an ungodly feedback that pulsates throughout the room. During their set I notice Brian, a man with monk-like hair that my dad once pointed out at a Damo Suzuki gig as a man that has been attending the coolest gigs since the late 80s, and still hasn’t lost his ability to lose himself in the music. An inspiration to all.
Up next is Japanese Television, another I discovered last year thanks to the good folk at the Quietus. If you haven’t heard their EP, then get on it, it’s full of kraut and space-rock sounding glory. With a bass player that looks and sounds like the reanimated corpse of Holger Czukay, if he had descended from the musical heavens to once again bless us with rhythmic wonderment. Japanese Television stand out tonight by creating a vortex like sound that expands, then pulls you straight back to centre, with echo and feedback playing the role of frontman. The slide guitar somehow provides a sense of stability in an otherwise chaotic set. A set so chaotic a guitar fell from the rafters, creating a clang that fit perfectly into the phonetic space that was currently being crafted. Keeping you hooked, trance like, and feeling forever immortal.
The support do exaclty as their supposed to, they support. They have set the scene for an anarchistic evening of abrasion. Given that GNOD are a Salofordian collective, with a former (maybe still present), residency at Islington Mill, I find it heart-breaking that this show isn’t on home turf. Salford has some of the best, intimate and coolest venues in the UK. Islington Mill, The Eagle Inn, The Kings Arms and The White Hotel are the places you can find the gems of society, with a willingness to put on anything with remote intrigue. Either way, The Peer Hat gets approval tonight. The small basement room fits around 180 people, making every gig feel special.
Tonight is a very special night. It’s a rare opportunity to see GNOD with a full band. GNOD are a concept that is forever fresh and unique. If I had to describe them (which I don’t, but will anyway), I’d say they’re more abstract than Einsturzende Neubauten, but far more listenable than Faust. The sound of GNOD is elegantly versatile, for example the anarcho-punk sounding Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine compared to Chapel Perilous, could be a different group all together. There is an obvious Greater Mancunian influence in the form of The Fall and specifically the antagonistic character of Mark E Smith. GNOD are uncompromising, if they change their sound, they can, so fuck off. This is too be expected by from a collective of sound artists. If you want to hear GNOD at their most accessible that’s fine, but just remember you can also have to have to hear them at their most uncompromising (Gestalt & Behind the Lids), to truly grasp their ingenuousness
Tonight we have the heavier sound of GNOD, literally ear piercing. Throughout the entire set, I think they may have only played three songs. However, this is not a criticism. The band scream and shout; paving a way of true originality in a field of modern plagiarism. They are unlike anyone that will come before or after. The double drummer lineup proves to devastating attack on the senses, giving a visual stimulation that is retorted by the ears; two bass players, create nothing but a cacophony of inebriating noise, alongside a singer/guitarist that mutilates any definition of a stereotypical role. There comes a point where singing is no longer necessary (if it was in the first place), as the microphone is handed to the crowd, as we are told that our voices matter. We are the ones that should be heard. The noise heard is incessant rhythmic screaming and chanting, providing a therapeutic outlet for anyone who dares take the chance of being listened to. Brain the freakout dancer of yesteryears is in full swing, taking to the mic to express his wonderment of what he bares witness. A member of Errant Monks eventually takes it upon themselves to create a verbal soundscape that intertwines every outcast member of this freakish audience.
Overall the night was a fascinating and awe inspiring event. The industrial funk of Errant Monks keeps me in high anticipation for the next four albums. The psychedelic hypnosis of Japanese Television will last a lifetime. But GNOD will be forever lamented as a surreal experience. A moment of realisation that everyone I’ve ever met was wrong, and that modern music can still be original, and exciting. Errant Monks will be at Band on the Wall on the 18th of April, Japanese Television have a new single titled Bloodworm out in the near future that needs to be heard and GNOD play Hebden Bridge’s Trades club on the 22nd. You may have to search the darkest corners of Manchester to find it, but it lies somewhere beneath the filth, somewhere anyone of curious mind should dare to visit.