ISLINGTON Mill, at 250 capacity, isn’t a big venue. It’s surprising then that even the combined presence of US cult noise-hip-hop fusion group Dälek and Austrian experimental post rock band Radian couldn’t sell it out.
That said, neither band allowed this to affect their performance.
Dälek are up first, the three performers that make up the experimental group strolling onto stage at just past 8PM.
The aggressive, noisy hip-hop group have a multitude of musical influences, including shoegaze, trip hop and straight up noise. This cacophony of sounds fight for dominance throughout their set, with each sound getting some time in the spotlight.
Whether its screeching, Merzbow-esque industrial noise interludes or the four-four hip hop drum beats hidden behind layers and layers of sound, scratching and samples on tracks like “Critical” from their come-back record Asphalt For Eden, everything is incredibly, startlingly loud.
MC Dälek gives a passionate performance, spitting every lyric perfectly without stops for breath. Though his words are sometimes drowned out by the swirling, thunderous instrumentation, he delivers he delivers his political lyrics with the grit and honesty they deserve.
The MC delivers his lines from centre stage, with producers Mike Manteca and DJ rEK to his right and left. The band don’t address the audience between songs, there’s simply a few seconds of silence and a smattering of appreciative applause.
Once the band reach the end of their fearsome set, MC Dälek speaks to the crowd and thanks them for their support and turn out.
After a short break, Radian walk onto stage. Again, there’s little crowd interaction.
Radian are a three piece, with John Norman on bass, Martin Siewart on electronics and guitar and the dextrous Martin Brandlmayr providing drums, electronics and vibraphone.
As an entirely instrumental band, it is Brandlmayr’s drums take centre stage.
His playing is incredibly impressive; he uses a number of different styles of sticks, techniques and rhythms to create an amazing array of sounds and timbers that are as impressive visually as they are audibly.
From gently scratching and brushing his kit to create more intimate textures to using a series of different sized cymbals added and removed from the kit on the fly to create pounding rhythms that reverberate around the small venue, Brandlymayr is the highlight of Radian’s performance.
That’s not to say that the other two are unimpressive. Siewart’s use of guitar to create both brooding soundscapes and almost bluesy, singing guitar solos that fit on top of electronics that are at once gorgeous, noisy and distorted.
John Norman’s bass playing is less visually impressive, though it provides a stable and at times interesting backbone for his fellow bandmates to improvise over.
Both Dälek and Radian have provided an exciting, interesting night of alternative, experimental and noisy music. These bands are full to the brim of technical skill and demonstrate that it is possible to show off without ever becoming self-indulgent.
By Will Stevenson