Review: Room 237 and You’re Not Human take over Bristol’s Coroner’s Court
April 6, 2016
On Friday 1st April, Room 237 and You’re Not Human took over Bristol’s Old Coroner’s Court to bring a night of intense, brooding and distinctly dark sounds.
The Berlin techno enigma, Headless Horseman, was top of the billing, playing alongside Ansome, Giant Swan, Black Amiga and Ossia. As ever, Room 237 curated a quality show. The derelict, disused Coroner’s Court venue – an old mortuary – perfectly reflected the dark vibe of the music, the sound system was very capable and the light-show was dramatic and immersive. All of the artists I saw gave cracking sets and the seriousness and intensity of the music was not lost for a second – far from the light-hearted, hedonistic party atmosphere that is generally synonymous with electronic events in Bristol, the vibe on Friday night was one of quality-focus and educated music appreciation, which was really cool to be a part of. Dark techno line ups of this calibre are few and far between in Bristol, and it was really great to see this one pulled off in such a sophisticated manner.
[pullquote]Ansome was the guy I had been most looking forward to seeing. His 130-influenced techno is violent yet funky, and I had been really excited to hear it on a hefty sound system. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.[/pullquote]
Some pretty dark, scary sounds were reverberating throughout the building as we arrived at the venue – just in time to catch the end of Bristol head Ossia’s set. Ossia, who played at the Boiler Room takeover of the Old Police Cells earlier this year, gave a very absorbing performance – his ominous sound evoked the history of the old mortuary and worked really well as an opener to the night and an introduction to the deep sounds to follow. Outside in the smoking area, we got talking to some metal music fans who told us that Ossia’s set had unexpectedly resonated with them due to its integration of guitar sounds and it’s heavy, angry vibe – an ode to how Ossia’s music and the wave of progressive electronic music that he is involved in almost transcends binary musical categories and reaches for something beyond genre, that is felt and experienced more than danced to. This was cool to hear, and it’s really exciting to see events like Room 237 supporting this kind of stuff.
After Ossia, Giant Swan were up, playing a live set using guitars and an array of hardware, such as samplers and sequencers. I’d been told by numerous friends that Giant Swan were going to be the ones to see that night, and I was certainly not disappointed by their set. It’s pretty safe to say it was one of the most unique performances I’ve seen in a long time. An emotive, progressive fusion of techno and noise soundscapes, the set was accompanied by a light show so intense that at some points I was seriously concerned that I might lapse into a state of fit. It was a completely immersive experience – very progressive and experimental, invoking an almost dreamlike state of awareness. I came out of the experience awed, as though I’d been through a psychedelic trip, something otherworldly. I can definitely say that everyone who has the opportunity to see Giant Swan live needs to take it; it’s certainly something that needs to be lived to be understood.
Brixton-based techno head Ansome was next up, and his hard-hitting industrial sound shook me out of my lucid state and bought me stomping back down to earth. Ansome was the guy I had been most looking forward to seeing. His 130-influenced techno is violent yet funky, and I had been really excited to hear it on a hefty sound system. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The abrasive, mechanical noises shook through Coroner’s Court, encouraging screwed-up faces and stomping feet, and like me, the whole room seemed to be lost in the darkness of the sound. My personal highlight was when he dropped ‘Man’s Head’, the glitchy masterpiece from his ‘Penny & Pound’ EP released on MORD back in 2014. The room went absolutely mental at this point, jumping and stamping to the mechanical, power-plant sounds; it stands out in my mind as a moment that summarised the aggression and energy of Ansome’s incredible set.
After Ansome came off, the mysterious figure of Headless Horseman stepped up to the decks, garbed in his characteristic thick black hoodie and black tasseled cap, obscuring his face. There was a huge surge of the crowd towards the front at this point – everybody wanted to catch a glimpse of the enigma. Headless Horesman’s sound is much more minimal than Ansome’s and his set was a lot more progressive, beginning slowly and building layered sounds into powerful climaxes.
The performance was a technical masterpiece, with expertly crafted peaks and troughs and dramatic crescendos unleashing all-out techno Armageddon on the willing audience. The journey was intensified by an expertly curated lightshow; flashing glimpses of the hooded figure working his mechanical instruments were burned onto our retinas, as if we were witnessing something ghostly. The Horseman showcased a wide range of material from his HDL EPs and his 2015 HDL 007 album, which was really exciting to hear. There was never a break in the energy of the set, and I didn’t stop moving for a moment of it. It was one of the best things I’ve seen in ages, and I can only hope that I have the opportunity to witness another performance from the shadowy Berlin producer.
After Headless Horseman, Bristol resident Black Amiga took to the decks, however we didn’t stay long enough to catch most of his set. I heard from friends who were still at the venue that he gave a solid performance with a focus on heavy, gloomy soundscapes, which sounded like it would have been great to see.
The whole night was incredible and I cannot give enough credit to the Room 237 and You’re Not Human heads for building such a sophisticated line up and pulling it off so well. Room 237 are well respected and have a reputation for putting on quality nights that, although rare in occurrence, always leave the crowd awed, and in anticipation of their next event. Friday was no different to this, and I encourage any self-respecting techno fan, or anybody that loves to hear alternative electronic music in a distinguished environment, to get themselves down to the next one!