Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura

Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura


Tonight’s Manchester psych band Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura’s have bulked out their music since their debut record, a two-sided eponymously-titled cassette released nearly four years ago. Few current bands can claim to have put out a 4LP edition, but such is the case with DSDV’s most recent release The Grand Celestial Purge, with its minimum track length reaching  7:51 and the maximum an impressive 23:21. Their support act, newer to the scene, is similarly generous with their track lengths. Tor Invocation Band is a project emanating from Jake Blanchard’s record label-cum-zine setup Tor Press, with the debut two-track release Water to their name as of March 2016. Both bands are northwestern outfits, hailing from Manchester and Todmorden respectively and falling into a similar musical bracket. Whilst upstairs in Soup Kitchen, I’m looking forward to bands of this ilk, not least because I narrowly missed out on my first Liverpool Psych Fest only a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t made a point of listening to drawn out, almost endless tracks in some time. I remind myself of my first foray into notably longer songs listening to Everlovely Lighteningheart’s forty minute Cusp as a teen, and how I enjoyed the lo-fi piano recordings that transformed into a mixture of percussive sounds, including the clanging of pots and pans. At this point, I confess that I’ve seen little of this sort of style in some time. I’ve not delved into the Soup Kitchen basement for a while either, its scent reminding me vaguely of Laser Quest (as my plus one puts it, “piss and incense”). Whilst I prep myself for what I’m half expecting – guitar segments that sway into eternity – I look to see the line-up of the first act, now setting up on stage. I’m aware this could be any selection of members from the full TIB line-up that is, as their Bandcamp notes, ‘ever shifting’. It’s a motley crew of instruments, complete with trombone, flute and mandola.  Early on there are chaotic drums, but a central melody can be made out as well as definite unison between the band. At times the rhythm spices things up, with trilling lyricless vocals on top, the flute and trombone complimenting one another well. There’s some mean crescendos with more intense vocals from the whistle player David Colohan, making way for lulls – my favourite part – when the clear and impressive vocals of the trombonist can enjoyed, mandola player Natalia Crep’t kneeling down at one point and rubbing the strings, instrument in lap as the band controls the swell of the play. Towards the end this is most apparent to me when Crep’t and Blanchard – playing the Shahi Baaja, a type of Indian zither – riff off one another before the trombone comes back in with whale-esque blows (I find this snippet to be peak enjoyment as a lover of marine life whose closest school friend played this very instrument). With my early doubt now abated, the instruments have all fit together nicely.

A short break and a beer from upstairs later – there’s somewhat more on offer if you pace back up to the ground floor – and it’s a more traditional line-up before me. Unlike the first band there is a bass-player, plus three guitars on the side, a seated man at keys and, of course, a drummer at the helm. It’s a tuneful, full strings ahead intro. The lead scales right up, atypical drum patterns sneak in. There are long build ups with speeding percussion that lilts back into gentler grooves. As you might expect, the FX are a key component of the dynamism in a band who considers itself to straddle jam, improv and psychedelic rock categories. A spacey two-chord back-and-forth continues for some time, the drummer reaching for cymbal beaters that enhance the shimmery noise. As with TIB, there is good cohesion between band members (even if the direction of the sound is wavering and perhaps unclear to me – it doesn’t really matter). I find the moments of intensity a little more palatable with DSDV, and am dipping my head at times without initially realising that a handful at the front are compelled to do the same. Periods of squelchy lead guitar manage not to border on the indulgent, though seeing the drummer with eyes squinting upwards and mouth open, it’s clear that they’re in the throes of enjoyment. It’s worth remembering that this is a band with numerous studio albums, in spite of the jamming-in-the-garage feel of both the music and the windowless, exposed brick environment. This is a band formed in Manchester, whom I envisage have enough regulars to local gigs, even if the space isn’t packed.

It’s at least 45 minutes by the time DSDV break, when I realise that this is the end of the set. The lack of vocals and unclear boundaries of the music have fooled me into thinking there must be more to come. But it’s a good end – expecting that little bit more, certainly where jam-style music is question, is probably the best way to round things off.

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Hannah Ross

Hummer and strummer with Kurt Vile hair. Likes neo-soul, reverb, and most things put out by Beggars. Will review for money and/or free tickets + exciting new music.