"My godfathers, the drummer. A hulking, lolloping ingenue, fresh from a day's logging."
Aah, Rotown, a great, friendly intimate venue. Plus, (and this is an important boozer note), you get your beer in real glasses. Anyway, that Saturday, something new was on offer in the form of Norway's Xploding PlastiX, a dance outfit to boot, children. Not just another set of know all kids trying to be Television or Wire. Team Incendiary just knew it was going to be interesting.
Once the place had filled up a bit, mostly with scrawny joes bedecked in leisure wear or ethereal looking types wearing wire rimmed specs, there was quite an air of expectation brewing; for we were led to believe that Xploding PlastiX are something out of the ordinary, something of a beacon in the world of dance music, a genre that has been somewhat in the shadow of guitar rock in the last two years. And were we disappointed in our expectation? No, my friends, we were not. We were stimulated, enriched, and entertained. Oh yes. Entertained by many things, and not just things musical. With that in mind I shall split my review into two main compartments; the music and the band, for there is much to tell on both these counts. Firstly, the music.
Xploding plastiX started off cautiously, as if picking up ingredients for the stew they were to prepare. Suddenly the drums (yes, they had a drummer) kicked in. We were presented with thumping drum and bass work outs contrasted with jazzy, almost atonal rythms. This started in turn to inspire certain directions in the music; which became quite symphonic at moments, bringing to mind choppier passages from Grieg and Sibelius (yes, SORRY, a corny and quite possibly lazy Scando-composer link, you think, but it did remind me of that).
Other passages were led by Krautish free rock beats, never allowing the harmonies to become sugary; rather, the music became languid, spacial, reminiscent of an on-form DJ Krush, or Cluster. It had an epic sense of space. Room to breath, room to create your own emotive soundscape.
Quite frankly, the music was brilliant and that, normally, would have been enough. But we were treated further, treated to the band themselves. An eclectic bunch of determined individuals, Xploding plastiX can best be described as Cluster with Keith Moon. Or if you're not old enough to visualise that (shit, I'm not old enough to visualise that), think Stevie (mad drummer from Guns & Roses) and Orbital (but with lots more more hair). Hmmm. Whilst two of Xploding plastiX were hidden behind their pieces of machinery, (we can't call them instruments really can we), engaged either in a game of computer battleships, or jabbing furiously at some key or knob like a deranged prayng mantis; the drummer drummed.
My godfathers, the drummer. A hulking, lolloping ingenue, fresh from a day's logging. Grendel's other son, cursing and swearing, straight out of a freezing, algae covered swamp. A green blooded, lichen covered behemoth whose neck hairs, incidentally stood erect at 90 degrees to his skin; a sure-fire indication of them having suffered a near fatal dose of static electricity, or never, not ever, having been brushed. A thunderbirds puppet miraculously given life by some Norwegian Frankenstein, but still unsure of the concept of stringless movement. Jesus Harry Christ. He could drum brothers and sisters; he could drum. He hammered, he coaxed, he tapped, thumped, drove, pattered, pottered, smashed, bumped, belched, crashed, drummed. All at top speed. Drumming with his fingers on the fast forward button, with his foot on the gas pedal. When he wasn't drumming, he'd make involuntary swishing and swiping movements, loathe to be left out, begging to return. And, when given the nod, like some big daft puppy, he'd go careering off, drumming. A genius and a lunatic, kids.
Right, enough, enough! You've had enough, and on re-reading this, I've had enough. I'm emotionally wigged, and probably banned from visiting Norway. I'll just tell you this; Xploding plastiX were wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. A breath of fresh air in these guitar smothered times, and this is written by a guitar band devotee. Go see.
Words : Richard Foster