Banjo Or Freakout open the last of Uncut‘s nights at The Great Escape, perhaps the weirdest line-up of the weekend, with a pretty uncompromising set.
Their recordings are purely the work of Italian-born London resident Alessio Natalizia, but live they’re a duo who mess around with samplers, adding in their own live vocals, percussion and guitar, and turning it into a swirling mass of noise.
It’s undoubtedly impressive, and the electronic approach even results in a very organic sound, perhaps due to the massed, almost atonal, vocals and bashed floor toms and cymbals. The use of heavy percussion at times makes Banjo Or Freakout akin to Liars in their “Drum’s Not Dead” era, while the woozy synth backing could fit well with Liars’ earlier “They Were Wrong So We Drowned” period.
Three Trapped Tigers, a British trio formed around keyboardist Tom Rogerson, perform next. One of their main influences appears to be the electronic math-rock of Battles, although we hear their desire is to play Warp-style music (Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, etc.) live without backing tracks.
The line-up of guitar (often twisted by effects), drums and keyboard also creates a tangle of tricky jazz-rock time signatures, and Rogerson’s twinkling electric piano sound at times almost channels the Canterbury sound of Hatfield And The North and Matching Mole with his jazzy runs.
Kudos should also go to the almost superhuman drumming of Adam Betts, who handles the intricacies of the time signatures while bashing the life out of his drum kit.
Next up is School Of Seven Bells, formed by Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis and twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. The New York trio’s “Alpinisms” album has been pretty well received – probably better than the most recent Secret Machines album – and they recreate it flawlessly in the Pavilion Theatre.
They open with the Sonic Cathedral-released single “My Cabal”, and it becomes immediately unclear what sounds Curtis is actually making on his white Les Paul. Like Kevin Shields, his rhythmic strumming appears to translate into floating clouds of space-echoed texture, hovering under the harmonised, flawless vocals of the Deheza twins and the programmed drums.
Like Motorhead or AC/DC, though, School Of Seven Bells only really have one song, one that they endlessly rewrite or rework. But, as with Motorhead or AC/DC, this isn’t a problem when you’ve got tracks of the standard of “Iamundernodisguise” or “Connjur” in your set.
White Denim close the night, drawing probably the biggest crowd of Uncut’s nights at the festival. They’re certainly not taking the ‘pop’ route with their set, avoiding playing their biggest hit and signature tune, “Let’s Talk About It”, and linking up their songs in a kind of relentless jam session/freakout of the kind showcased at their London Club Uncut show in July.
They’re impressively heavy for a three-piece, Steve Terebecki‘s bass resonating through your chest and Joshua Block bringing out his inner Keith Moon on the kit. Some of the many quickfire songs they play must be new ones from their forthcoming “Fits” album, but they slot seamlessly into the band’s psychedelic garage set alongside the highlights of their debut “Workout Holiday”, like “Shake Shake Shake” and “Darksided Computer Mouth”.
The great thing about White Denim is that, despite their retro garage rock and blues influences, they inject enough live guitar loops, raw jamming and experimental instrumental detours to create something totally unique.