Cordyceps is Your Friend – Cafe Oto, Dalston, London – 7th November, 2014

Grapefruits began this night of warped and dark electronics with a set comprising cello, synth and drums in a union of fierce and frantic improvised abrasion. Sounding like an audio version of a slow camera zoom onto knotted scorched wood, this trio carved a sound dense and violent; a congealing of acidic elements: squealing effects-manipulated cello strings, drums like bursts of instantaneous rust, and a synth emitting noxious fumes. The cello playing was startling in itself; nerve peeling scrapes,  treated, degraded, buried in waste and grit. The only rest they allowed the audience was a late-on sick pulse that left behind much of the clatter; a chute of noise, down which the band dropped into uneasy calm and amplifier hum; their set drawing to a close with tendrils of bass gloop quivering into silence.
The second set was a calmer proposition. Pascal Savy, by contrast, was slow, minimal and understated. Using his synths to build an accumulating menace like malevolent birds gathering on a overhead cable. This was noise set in monochrome relief, black eels gliding through blacker water.
Luke Jordan employed a fluted brass object laid on a sheet of metal and tortured into horrific bellowing walls of sound by his electronics. It provoked utter nullity, and a little tedium, through sheer brutal ear-fuckery. A nihilist roadwork skull-scooping head-excavation. But in a good way. Or not? I have no idea; I just wanted it to end.
The highlight of the evening was Embla Quickbeam. She played uncanny field recordings from Area X or The Zone. Water flowed through bird calls and insect click-clatter. This was music haunted, moist and moss-choked; eerie and beautiful. The fog-bound samples eventually faded into sighing loops of glass-rim singing, songs for Charles Burns’ woodland people and tree-hollows full of fingernails.
The evening ended with a performance from Ewa Justka. She was accompanied by boxy monitors and strip-lights that flashed and pulsed in fierce and glaring unison with the mutoid techno thump of her set. Off-grid with a skewed rhythmic almost-logic, it flayed brains with machine-gun rattles one moment, only to cut-up jump into more sedately paced amniotic beats. Given how harsh and machine-like the sonic components of her set were: juddering blasts and bangs, contracting crunch, industrial steam bursts; experiencing the music was intuitively human. Although,  perhaps human with a Cronenberg warp; VHS tapes jammed into navels, a screaming array of blood-type squirting through cholesterol-furred fibre-optics, saliva-slick USB ports, and suspiciously fleshy laptop track-pads.
Throughout the evening Laid Eyes lit the rear wall of the Cafe Oto with pixelated decrepitude and boxy mushroom cloud error-visions. Context-less intertitle cards seperated segments of negative-flashed children climbing trees and close-up images of babies’ faces on bubbling rotten film. At one point, van-Gogh night-swirls bathed the venue in a sickly glow. The visuals perfectly complimented Cordyceps is Your Friend; the success of this third edition making a trip to the fourth essential.


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