Live Review: Ramleh, Cafe Oto

Editor's Review

Summary

I look forward to the next Broken Flag night, as this was one of the noisiest nights I’ve ever been to, a real pleasure.

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My first ‘Broken Flag’ night at cafe oto, on a triple bill and I’m only familiar with one band, that being Broken Flag founder Gary Mundy’s band Ramleh…you could expect a pretty blistering bombardment of a bill. An evening for earplugs.

Those familiar with the London power electronics scene will probably be aware of Gary Mundy and Broken Flag. Two years ago I had my skull spun around 360 degrees at a ‘Consumer Electronics’ gig in Leeds, Consumer Electronics’ founder Phillip Best is a former member of Ramleh (and of course, Whitehouse) so I expected a similar visceral and vitriolic Artaudian bombardment of the senses at this Cafe Oto gig.

You can expect a typical crowd at a power electronics gig, a plethora of middle-aged men who probably work in admin and
read lots of Burroughs. But this was a refreshingly diverse crowd, I sense that Ramleh’s rock n’ roll sets attract quite a varied crowd from those who love their noise stuff and fans of experimental metal like sludge or doom. One of the last events I went to at Cafe Oto was called ‘Krautrock Karaoke’ so it’s a perfect fit for this loud, strange
night.

First to play is KLEISTWAHR, Gary Mundy’s solo project. A substantial array of pedals, electronic gear.
Mundy opens the set with Harmonica through a plethora of pedals and ambient noise…something that looks like a Casiotone or some other retro 80s synth. Mundy stands like a someone who is about to give a Ted Talk
on quantum mechanics. His performance style strays from the Whitehouse thing of power poses and exaggerated masculine bravado, he’s just making the noise he wants to make and it’s visceral as hell. There is squelching high pitched yet
ominously melodic synth patterns with further moaned out, shouted words from Mundy. Visuals played throughout footage of war and terror which lent itself to the music and added a deeper layer to sounds which seem to express some
sort of dread of the future and bitterness for the past, which if you look at the world today does make a lot of sense. There is a catharsis to be found. The visuals were put together by Consumer Electronics’ member Sarah Froelich who did a
great job.

JFK is Ramleh member Anthony Di Franko’s Franco’s solo project. Blistering electronic beats put one in mind of Consumer
Electronics percussion. Pulsating descending synth screeches, with synth sounds that sound like vintage toy ray guns. There is a very brutal militaristic atmosphere painted here. It’s terrifying and cool as fuck at the same time. The pulsating vitriolic beats continue as industrial noise harrangs in the background, JFKs set is as texturally considered as Mundy’s set prior. A thudding minimalism protrudes as the music shifts into slow crushing yet riffy grooves that has a danceability to it. The visuals were on point again and it comes off, along with the music, as some sort of sad poem to Trump’s America. One big realisation that hit me watching JFK play is how we seem to have come full circle since the 1980s, musically. Because in a lot of ways, we are back in the 1980s with its violence
and right-wing politics. JFK sits comfortably on the soundtrack to this fucked up world that keeps repeating itself.
Di Franko’sFranco’s sets are tonally and rhythmically considered, as you feel the helicopter blade sounds may actually cut your head off.

JFK is a progression in drone, noise and power electronics as it sounds contemporary, sonically illustrating the tragic reality that weapon technology is advancing quicker than health care. There are parts of the world where it’s OK to drop
bombs on people. Watch out for JFK’s album Weapon Design coming on Fourth Dimension Records in 2018.
RAMLEH, playing in an extended line-up of: Stuart Dennsion (drums), Anthony Di Franco (bass/guitar, synth, vocals), Kevin Laska (synth) and Gary Mundy (guitar, vocal) enters with ethereal synth and pranging thudding fingered bass. As the guitar and drums repeat and repeat.

Mundy’s guitar sounds are like Joy Division’s Bernard Sumner is auditioning for Pink Floyd with an intricate set of pedals. RAMLEH know what they are doing and exactly what their sound is. Building up to building up. RAMLEH create an
atmosphere that is both brutalist, modern and concrete yet also desert-like, like a Mad Max landscape. The vocals are often akin to Public Image Ltd. Screeching guitar that is transfixed with the descending low-end chugging bass riffs. Some sort of psychedelic hell.

The set continues ambient eerie noise interluding as they bring back the thudding rock grooves. Chaotic consisted mess of drums as Mundy’s Dennison’s insistent techy drums portude of cathartic swells of ambient noise, this music
swells. RAMLEH kick you in the teeth, they’re so good live. Their roots of power electronics, noise and drone is still therein the in the background. ‘YOU’RE ‘IT’S NEVER ALL RIGHT!’. I look forward to the next Broken Flag night, as this was one of the noisiest nights I’ve ever been to, a real pleasure.

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