From the outset, it’s clear that tonight’s show will not conform to the usual gig experience. A drone duo who have shunned their usual guitars for synthesisers and effect pedals are a stark contrast to the usual sermons delivered in St Paul’s Church.
The San Francisco duo construct dark symphonies which thrive on almost unnoticeable changes in texture, evolving into epic blasts that literally rattle the pews of the church. The interest of these pieces lies in how exactly the aforementioned blasts are formed. It’s almost impossible to track each individual noise fading in and out, and even more difficult to work out what the band are doing with the various electronic gear they are using. However, what really matters is the music, not how it is created.
Throughout their set, Barn Owl never stop making noise through the array of dark boxes and cables in front of them. The only way to identify transitions between movements is the change in lighting. Although unusual, the choice of venue is absolutely perfect. Sitting in pews encourages the idea of disassociating oneself with a concert, and consequently allows one’s mind to be taken on a journey which although not necessarily religious, is unavoidably spiritual. Sometimes journeys are slammed back into reality by simultaneously terrifying and emotional stabs of noise; perhaps this is a reflection on the dark state of the reality compared to the world our mind strives to live in.
The show presents listening to music in a much more simple light than we are used to. Focusing on the individual, lengthy sounds fading in and out with each other at different times takes listening to music back to basics, and allows one to question the very nature of the art. Tonight, Barn Owl transcend the idea of music as an art form intended to just be listened to, but instead create a force which immerses every soul in the room.
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