This is my 100th Silent Radio review, and I’ve still no idea what I’m doing. It’s only appropriate that I’m, typically, at an intimate gig for a band that I’d not heard of 2 weeks ago, until recommended by editor Simon Poole. Soup Kitchen is filling up nicely, as you’d expect from a Now Wave doo. The Northern Quarter urban decay basement is a very fitting scene for what is to come.

Horrid are the support. That’s their name. They struggle to find their way to their instruments due to the potato sacks that they’re wearing on their heads – a scenario that somewhat removes the horror from the scene. That, and the keys player has his glasses on over his eye holes. They’re Manchester based, and I’ve a feeling that they are members of GNOD, for some reason. Anyway…

… they start to make noises, which are kind of disorientating, and then the beat and bass join in, and it’s all pretty fantastic. The “singer” shakes from side to side which looks eerie, as they struggle with a wire and some tape that they’re blowing into, or wailing at, or something. Can’t see because of the mask. The drummer hits the pounding beat with a maraca, and the guitarist appears to have blood on his face – occasionally, he leans towards his mic to let off a spine-tingling  shriek. This is industrial drone trapped perpetually in a David Lynch film. I like Horrid a lot on this evidence, and hope they become a lot scarier.

It takes a while, but I can now confidently say their name, and even spell it without checking. Nisennenmondai are a female trio from Tokyo. Translated, it means ‘Y2K Bug’ #fact. As with the support, tonight’s headliners start with a repetitive, beat-less sound, possibly created by a guitar loop. It’s interesting enough by itself, but they slowly introduce new sounds and build a cinematic soundscape that conjures images of driving through a city at night with the windows open, and no lights on.

The venue is now pretty much full and all attention is on the sparsely lit low stage. Heads nod, some start to dance. People, including myself, can’t help but close their eyes and disappear into their own imaginations. It’s like a 90’s rave in here at times – minimal techno played with live instruments. The drummer has incredible discipline, hitting a rapid beat on a hi-hat that she occasionally opens. The bassist hits one note repeatedly, and, this may seem strange, but a shift to a higher octave later in the set is one of the many highlights. Eventually, the drummer hits the snare – a sound that bizarrely serves as something of a reward for our patience. Doubling the 4/4 kick drum speed is also all that’s needed to draw gasps from the crowd.

Their most recent album ‘N’ is almost 40 minutes long and only contains 3 songs, but conventional format has been thrown out of the window, here. Most of their material is founded around the structure described above, although with age they appear to be stripping it down further. If your going minimal, you’d better make your sound really interesting. They do just that, so, so well. The second tune could well be the first tune again, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter.

As usual, the drunken weirdos in the crowd are standing near me – the guy behind me cackles manically each time something impressive emanates from the speakers, which is often. Everyone else is silently entranced. Breaks between tunes are filled with heavy, much deserved applause. How long has passed? Who knows? Maybe it’s starting to get light outside.

Thought’s mid-way through the concert are to get this album and listen to it in a darkened room with headphones on, but that’ll never match the experience of seeing them live. I think my clubbing days are over, but this is the kind of thing that would attract me back to Sankey’s, or The Warehouse Project. Much more of this, please.

Nisennenmondai Official | Facebook | Twitter

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.