Monday, 26 November 2007


I spent a considerable portion of last week chained to a computer, slaving over an assignment that I had stupidly left until the last minute. Part of the problem was that the brief was, well, brief (“Err, like, design a hand drill, or something…”); and so it seemed at first like there wouldn’t be too much work involved. The main problem was that I wasted far too much of my time playing with toy soldiers and going to gigs.

We went to see Jesu and Mono at The Cooler on Monday. There was a support act too, but I didn’t catch the name – probably for the best, as I don’t really have anything nice to say about it. It was just one guy with a guitar, drum machine, and about a million billion effect pedals. He was fairly unremarkable looking – like one of the squares with normal hair cuts in a styling gel commercial – and at first the gradual build of layers of weird guitar noise he created were quite interesting. But then, about seven minutes into his set, he decided to start screaming into the mic. It sounded a bit like foxes fighting. You could see people in the crowd looking around with bewildered expressions on their faces, wondering if anyone else was hearing the same thing as them. We all were, but fortunately it didn’t last too much longer; he buggered off and was soon replaced by the mighty Jesu.

Jesu are quite difficult to define as a band. Their sound is unquestionably heavy, a huge downtuned dense wash of effect-laden guitar backed up by an unrelenting, almost mechanical rhythm section; but unlike the hate-filled bile of frontman JK Broadrick’s previous band Godflesh, there is an underlying feeling of hope and optimism to the music that should seem out of place, but doesn’t. Even the grinding trudge of “Friends Are Evil” ends with an uplifting twinkle.

Mono are a band that I knew of, but I had never heard anything by them before this night. I had an idea of what to expect – they’re one of those chin-strokingly good instrumental post-rock bands, so all of their songs will be eight minutes long and follow a quiet-loud-quiet-very loud format. Just for the record, I thought that Mono were excellent. However, they did play for just a tiny bit too long; after an hour of delicately/violently strumming our brains out, their two guitarists spent a full ten minutes wrestling feedback from their instruments whilst the tiny girl playing bass stood motionless in front of her amp, Blair Witch-like, and the drummer slumped over his kit like he’d lost consciousness. It seemed like the logical place to finish the set… but no, they went on to play for another half hour after that.

I awoke the next morning with my ears still ringing; and for the next three days slaved away tirelessly (mostly) to get my pesky assignment done. Pretty much as soon as it was finished and handed in, I whizzed of to Surrey to see my parents. Friday was my mum’s 56th birthday; she wasn’t particularly bothered about becoming a year older, as she’d spent the whole of the previous year thinking she was 56 anyway (this kind of confusion seems to run in the family). We all met up with my sister in London, where we went to see the big crack in the floor of the Tate Modern, and a quite fascinating Terracotta Army exhibition at the British Museum. There was also some Chinese food and Cuban cocktails involved… it was a good day.

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