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AUDIOVISUAL OVERLOAD
:: Former Ghosts :: Christian AIDS :: Weird Era ::
07 March 2011 / Ruby Lounge / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

I'm not for one minute suggesting that this would be a good idea, as I personally quite like being alive and presume most other people do too - but one unfortunate explosive accident in Ruby Lounge tonight and you'd have taken out about half of Manchester's new music chasers: there's definitely something going on. At the point when we arrive, Weird Era are going on: after an initial year in which their only appearances were in recorded form it suddenly seems like you can't go a fortnight without seeing this trio... er, hang on a minute, sometime in the past fortnight or so three have become four with the addition of a bassist. Which basically makes them even better, and they were already one of the best of the current crop of new local bands - on the grounds that of all the bands currently fuzzing it up like its 1991 nobody else is doing the Swervedriver thing of basically playing college-radio alt-rock tunes with a dirty shoegazer sound. And even if they were they probably wouldn't be doing it this well.

It's not just Weird Era that's brought every buzz-watcher in town down the Ruby Lounge stairs tonight, though. It's not even the headliners. Much like D/R/U/G/S in 2010, Christian AIDS have been ripping through the blogosphere like Charlie Sheen on a Twitter binge, on the strength of little more than a gloriously offensive name and a few minutes of somewhat unsettling atmospheric techno - this is their first ever live performance, and we can only presume that Shoreditch is a ghost town tonight as every A&R in Britain is in here. In which situation you can either play it cool like you don't care, or rewire their brains with the avant-ridiculous - and if you've called yourselves Christian AIDS it's unlikely to be the former. On the one hand, we get half an hour of beautifully forward-looking electronica hewn from the meeting point of Gold Panda's sonic manipulation, White Ring's dance of doom and a side order of warped post-trance. On the other hand, there are six mostly hooded figures in white standing in a line across from the hunched duo whilst between them a projection screen presents a sequence of fucked-up shit involving, variously: Korean missile launches, open heart surgery, toe-sucking, communist formation marching and, um, people doing drugs and being sick. One of the hooded figures steps forward and mouths some sound into a microphone which once filtered through their disturbed minds and boxes of tricks is barely human, by which time he's stripped to a vest and smacking his own face like he's trying to stave off a particularly heavy white-out; another, female, sings wordlessly like some dark angel trapped in a computer mainframe.

Stumbling back towards the bar I'm met with the widened eyes of a local music promoter and fanzine writer whom I know for a fact has seen some pretty bizarre shit in his time because I've been in the same room, and he says simply "what... the fuck... was that?" So, hyped nonsense or the future? Well you can't download a live performance art concept, can you, unless Apple are working on some kind of holographic I-pod (which wouldn't actually surprise me) - so let the music decide. And it's really fucking good. One hell of a debut.

At which point we all have to pretend we're here to see Former Ghosts, which some people undoubtedly are. This band, largely the work of Parenthetical Girls' Freddy Ruppert, has been compared to Joy Division - presumably, on tonight's evidence, by people on some quite potent drugs. It's true that some of Ruppert's lyrics make you want to slip him a Samaritans card, but the musical experience is somewhat closer to Battles gone electropop with the synth set to "weirdness" and punctuated by explosive and not altogether rhythmic temper tantrums on a variety of electronic and analogue percussion. On a different night this would probably be amazing - hell, it probably is amazing. Sorry Freddy, next time I'll bring a spare brain just in case.


Resources:
Former Ghosts
Christian AIDS
Weird Era

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