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ant-zen show with synapscape, imminent, converter, noizguild vs. ntt, savak
posted on 8-Mar-2000 by anton
the ant-zen show at pyramid was scheduled to start at 8 pm; but things were running almost an hour late. by the time we got in, the crowd lined up before the merchandise table (ran by s.alt and his wife) that turned out to be quite disappointing containing mostly easy-to-find ant-zen and hymen releases.

the venue was rather small and cramped with people; air conditioning could be greatly improved. all of the above however resulted in a nice friendly atmosphere where you could not avoid bumping into band members and organizers of the show that were kind enough to chat with you and answer some questions.

the crowd seemed to be very homogeneous without usual mindless fashion-obsessed goth regulars or random walk-ins. everyone was friendly and seemed to be quite knowledgeable.

while the stage was being prepared, the audience was entertained by live videos of synapscape and noisex performances.

first act was noizguild vs. NTT. at first, I could not place the "vs" since leech of ntt was hidden behind sasha and shane. but apparently all three of them were present on stage. since i am not very familiar with noizguild's live set (the short set i witnessed in cleveland doesn't count), i could not detect any outside influences in their performance. it started with a slow dark bass-filled ambiance that gradually progressed to a bit more structured and noisier sound. similar to some tesco material, it was a nice collage of flat crunchy soundscapes, where sounds would be repeated again and again gradually intensifying the atmosphere. overall, it was a pleasant warm-up set that probably could benefit from some visuals.

next appearance was two-man pbr's very own savak that presented next step in growing intensity with its simple and repetitive percussion-oriented sound reminiscent of early noisex or zymosiz. occasional cool loops were eventually drowned in constant repetitive sound.

next was scott sturgis from converter that up until that moment was part of the audience quietly standing in the far corner. converter's appearance was the first to get the audience really moving. considering the fact that until dc show scott hasn't played for 8 years, his show was even more impressive. reworking some of his old material and presenting new tracks, the set went from killer skull-crushing pumping rhythm'n'noise to more atmospheric thick feedback-filled soundstructures. one of the biggest surprises was noisy static-filled composition at the beginning of the set that sounded like everything I was looking for in the tesco material - multiple layers of dense, heavy unstructured white noise that possessed depth that most of the similar tesco material simply could not reach. not nearly as violent as the rest of the material presented, it was definitely the most interesting. the rest of this incredible set was hard gabber-like noise with some bits and pieces of older material spliced together with new converter sound ("blast furnace" stuff?). at times some pieces seemed to be a bit stretched, but this feeling quickly disappeared once intense passages kicked in. overall, an excellent set.

being a big converter fan, I expected to see this band play last after previous musicians have warmed up the audience. however, the live performance is always quite different from the recorded sound; the fact that got proved once again during synapscape set. this was truly the high point of the whole concert with the crowd fully getting into it. their live set seemed to take the best percussion-oriented moments from all synapscape releases and present a tight mix where aggressive gabber-core sound, distorted vocals and a lot of energy created an excellent combination. both repetitive loops and vocals that disturbed me so much on their records, worked great live and got the audience moving instantly. their hour-plus set was the fiercest and longest assault on the senses I have ever experienced. excellent and almost traumatizing.

olivier of imminent, that seemed to have the most gear on stage, was next and possessed stage intensity close to synapscape's but different in nature. completely live improvisation was breathtaking, and the skill and spontaneous sound manipulations were as thrilling as the intensity of synapscape. driving percussion was overlaid with plenty of unique feedback loops and distorted sounds to result in the set that was noisier than anything else played before him. the sound was created right on the spot and seemed to be noisier and thicker than older imminent starvation. for a short time olivier was joined by synapscape to present the material that made it to "screenwalking" ep. unfortunately by this time quite a few audience members have left the club or were desperately trying to keep their eyes open.

overall, this 6+ hours of live power electronics and technoid rhythms were the best show I have witnessed in a long time; truly "live" with most of the material being pure improvisation. the dj sets in-between were simply incredible mixing xingu hill with boards of canada, beefcake with aphex twin and pan sonic with passarani (we got new passarani ("ancient technologies") at the store right across the road from the club). compliments to the organizers for excellent concert planning, to the bands for great performance and to the audience for staying dedicated. definitely not the show to miss!
picture gallery
[click the image to enlarge]
noizguild vs. ntt
imminent vs. synapscape
all photos are © 2000 alan mcclelland

related links
atrocity ny
official converter website
official imminent website
possessive blindfold recordings
official synapscape website
ntt website
official ant-zen website

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