Live Review

Cold Cave, Manchester Deaf Institute

The bombardment of noise is exquisite.

The All Tomorrows Parties festivals achieve a lot of things. Notably, it manages to get wannabe hipsters around the UK in a fit whenever a new curator is announced and when some new acts are added to the line-up. It must also account for an alarming loss of followers for those who turn up, as there are so many in-joke drinking tweets that people can take before taking action. Thankfully, there are some advantages for those of us too poor to pay to spend a weekend in a Butlins Chalet, as Cold Cave proved by making a post-ATP excursion to Manchester Deaf Institute.

Playing their entire set in the shroud of darkness, the most obvious thing to note is just how loud they manage to be. On record, they manage to combine their industrial sound with something approaching warmth, but on stage they’re simply brutal, assaulting the audience with noise. Through experimental music, feedback lost any kind of shock value decades ago, but when a synth is utilised properly, it can still sound like the end of the world. Opening their set with an ear splitting attack, it takes a while for the foursome to settle down into something easier going on the ear. Not that they need to – the skill that the band possess means that the bombardment of noise is exquisite in its own way, and a bizarre pleasure to experience.

The basis of the band’s 2009 debut ‘Love Comes Close’ seemed to be built on a the necessity of challenging the musical norm. Even compared to their contemporaries, they stick out like a sore thumb. There’s something approaching conventional pop music in their sound, but here they cover it in the double-sided attack of a drum-kit and drum machine. The effects are devastating – the title track from their first album sounds infinitely more threatening, whilst any sugar coating that may have come from the few tracks that Jennifer Clavin adds her vocals to instantly lose their sugar coating. Recently added to the group followed the departure of former Xiu Xiu collaborator Caralee McElroy, her past with The Smell alumni Mika Miko make Clavin an easy fit for the group, adding credence to the burgeoning tag of Cold Cave as somewhat of an underground supergroup.

The set might be relatively short at 40 minutes, but it doesn’t really need to be any longer – their sound is one crammed with ideas, leaving little breathing room. Stood centre stage, wearing a macintosh, Wesley Eisold only acknowledges the crowd once in their entire set, preferring instead to overlap songs and carry on. Even when he does decide to break his silence, two songs before they end, it’s only really to remind us of who we’re seeing and give a little thanks for turning up. With barely a nod to the crowd, the four shuffle off stage, enigmatic and utterly unique. Though it might feel at times like they’re hostile to the audience, there’s no doubt they’ve treated the hundred of so Mancunian attendees to one very good show.

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