Cavern of Anti-Matter Hare & Hounds 21st Sept.
I had an idea of writing this without mentioning Stereolab but it got to seem too obtuse. Even for me, which is going some if we’re to speak plainly. So, how to answer the enquiry “Who you going to see?” A) – ‘Cavern Of Anti-Matter, a new Berlin krautrock trio’ or B) – “Cavern Of Anti-Matter, it’s Tim Gane off of, out of Stereolab’s new band”. It’s B isn’t it? COAM are great but they’re a bit like Stereolab with all the fun and colour drained out. Monolab if you want to be unkind. The vivid colour block artwork has become monochrome, on stage they play bathed in blue unchanging light. Gone are the bossa nova beats, lounge accents, pop songs and most of all those gorgeous vocal harmonies. In fact the one track with sung vocals on alleged debut ‘Void Beats Invocation Trex’ is by far its low point. I say ‘alleged’ because they have kept the previous band’s erratic approach to discography, it’s their third full length following ‘Blood Drums’ and the two 20+ min tracks of the ‘Interlude Music’ ep and there’s single and ep’s to consider of course – a new one arriving shortly called ‘I’m The Unknown’ – but officially the debut and really the first time they’ve come out and done some solid touring and such. There’s not much to look at, three chaps now thinner of hair and thicker of waist playing to a similarly aged audience who used to come and see the old band. Hopefully that won’t always be so because they deserve better, to play in a dark corner to a room full of ecstatic young dancers swimming in light and joy, not just us head nodding, beer sipping old geezers. Between my sips and nods I’m also scratching my brain for what ingredient might have been added in to the new (neu!) mix but Stereolab’s reach was so great I don’t think there is one. Gane’s gone back to the motorik basics they started with and just started doing something different, making new shapes and combinations. Which might sound reductive but it’s not at all, krautrock, soundtracks, electro and techno are a heady combination to start with and they stretch it out in a variety of enjoyable directions. ‘Tardis Cymbals’ is a familiarly ‘lab-like chug but as the set wears on the motorik becomes Moroder, a subtle disco pulse that it amuses me to think is being nodded along to appreciatively somewhere in the room by the sort of indie snob who usually abhors disco. What I take at the time to be ‘I’m The Unknown’ is magnificent, twisting and shifting with remarkable skill and boundless ambition. The intensity builds through the set, there are even moments when they remind me of Orbital, bring on the dancing old people! The only minor glitch comes in the odd awkward pause between numbers, the little audience interaction comes from Joe Dilworth behind the kit who speaks to us, without a mic, apologises for the delay and not knowing the songs mostly and wonderfully introduces the gorgeous ‘Black Glass Action’ as “a power ballad about a sad robot in a pencil factory”. For a band who seem to have come into being from hours of rehearsal room playing together, tinkering and experimenting, pull off some impressive stops and starts and look like they could just play on for half hour stretches at a time it seems odd that they need to take such disruptive pauses. In a comically perfect illustration of this they blow the big finish of the last number, stalling rather than crashing out in style. Maybe not the slickest live experience in the world just yet then but perhaps that’s to the good, when they’re in their stride the sound is amazing. As I said, they deserve to reach a much bigger, wider audience.