Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sword Heaven - Live at Little Brothers (2007)

For some reason, tribal elements have over the years come to gain quite some currency in noise and general experimental music, and have been readily adopted by, to name a couple, William Bennett and Eye Yamatsuka, and so, so many more. Sword Heaven likewise are, in a very real sense, tribal, but go beyond employing tribalism as a stylistic device; instead, their sound is base, primal, more evocative of anything tribal than 77 drummers or imaginary befriended noisicians from the Dark Continent.

Like Machinefabriek's Zink, Live at Little Brothers was released on Cut Hands, and it was another excellent addition to their catalog. Luck has it live shows are exactly what capture Sword Heaven at their very best, with all the sweat and the bodies and the monstrosity and the filth. So what do we have here? Well, Sword Heaven is the duo of Aaron and Mark, who respectively play percussion and noises, and both of them are also prone to screaming their lungs out a bit. Performances (and tracks) typically play like immense crescendos, building up from a single smash on a drum, a distant, muted scream, a hiss and a squeak, to gradually grow and grow and grow, eventually erupting, turning into complete chaos, cymbals crumbling into dust, drum kit breaking down, vocal chords straining, the crunch whiteing out.

Live at Little Brothers features exactly two such cuts; Intro - Tongues, and Faceless Nameless (the latter of which would later appear in some sort of definite version on Entrance, released through Load), both of which are exactly that: a cleansing sort of experience, orgasmic, madness creeping in, insanity, and then a blinding white light and you lose it all. Of course, a live recording is nothing like a live experience, and Sword Heaven live recordings tend to sound slightly muddy maybe, slightly less vibrant, and there's less ringing of the ears (well, you can turn the volume up though), no smell of sweat (unless you romp about yourself a bit), no pale bodies stumbling over each other, falling on stage and joining in with the band (on Faceless Nameless, some ten people join Aaron in smashing his kit), but I can't really mind. It's so energetic, so incredible, so destructive; it can only be loved.

Live at Little Brothers, of course, is sold out from Cut Hands, but you can get a copy for virtually nothing from Discogs still. Just give this thing a shot and see if you think it's worth it. Pretty much anything from their catalog is worth it, with their best release probably being the Piles 7" on BloodLust!, which features a couple of minutes from a 2006 live show; arguably their very best moment. In any case, enjoy!


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