3 brilliant new bands from Go North festival

So here we are stood on an an island surrounded by the river Ness just a mile out from the Inverness city centre.
The island has been sculpted into a park, with an amphitheatre in the middle of it. It’s beautiful spot in the early evening haze of the late spring light and a perfect spot for some quiet hanging out…
But there’s some people here with a very different agenda.
I’m at the Go North music conference in Inverness. Having spent the afternoon on a panel about DIY music I’ve been led up the garden path so to speak and joined the merry throng on a magical mystery tour. We have been told to met at 5.30 outside a bar in town and our guide has walked us along the river through a thick woodland, past random joggers and dog walkers to this amphitheatre.
In the the middle of the space are two battered amps and two skinny dudes who are sat by a guitar and a stripped own drum kit and a mic attached to a broken branch of a tree- within seconds of us arriving they explode into noise.
It’s really wonderful.
Bronto Skylift an amazing group.
A duo from Inverness and the Orkney Islands- they make the same kind of self expression, free jazz-skronk- punk as the classic Glasgow/ Edinburgh, late eighties/early nighties death to trad rock noisenik scene of the Dog Face Hermans, Badgewearer, Dawson, Stretchheads. It’s the same kind of filthy, kinetic explosion of energy, the same sort of frantic drumming, the same kind of rat-a-tat frenetic cowbell action, the same sort of imagination and the same sort of wilful thrill of the electric power of the form. The same type of filthy imagination as the sort of bands I was documenting in my recent Death To Trad Rock book
The coolest thing is that they are totally unaware of this tradition of bands. Bronto Skylift have arrived here all by themselves.
That rules.
They got here via their rock routes and you can hear the filth of Black Flag, the explosive energy of hardcore and the detuned heaviness of grunge in their sound as well. It was like they are the only people in the world who understood that Curt Cobain was an experiMENTAL underground musician who was closer to the likes of the Ex than the mainstream.
They are also wilfully non conformist. They are part of an organisation called Detour Scotland who put gigs on in off the wall places.
This gig in the park is no one off event- they have played under the railway bridge in Edinburgh, a one way street in Glasgow and on the England/Scotland border, they have a website full of films of cool and weird underground gigs and they are utterly amazing.
Normally at these kind of conventions one off the wall band is all you’re going to get but at Go North a whole event is stuffed full of great bands.
Wandering back into town I end up in another venue which looks like a neon strip light strip joint- an atmosphere-less space that is swiftly turned into something special by Glasgow based band The Seventeenth Century who are described as folk rock which conjures images that are none too thrilling.
Fortunately the band, who are late teens in age, are coming from somewhere else entirely. They deal in folk melodies with their perfect harmonies and their frontman is steeped in the form with his parents playing him Incredible String Band albums from birth- a pretty col soundtrack to your youth! But they sieve the folk through a tough, dislocated bass and drums power that hints at post rock dislocation whilst their brass and violin also give a nod to the dark, brooding soundscapes of the recently reformed Godspeed You Black Emperor as well as the Dirty Three- whose story telling, violin plucking air of dissolution they also hint at.
They also ooze a cool and passionate intensity as they transport themselves and the audience to somewhere entirely different. Their sound is utterly original and the band is pure genius.
We will be hearing a lot more from them.
Just round the corner there is another fusion of styles going on from Mothercoat who have flown in from Tokyo to play Go North and then the neighbouring Rock Ness festival. The Japanese four piece are, like all the best Japanese bands, twitching with a bordello thrill at the possibilities of pop. Their songs zip from neo hardcore thrashes to intense, psychedelic workouts- one song sees their frontman pitch his voice to an alien high like pinky and perky squeaks that are oddly sad and affecting as the band bounce around him with krautrock rhymes and bubble bath melodies that really trip your head out.
They then lock into a monster grove that is stunningly hypnotic, the frontman twitches, grinning, oozing the charm of someone who is in love with the instinctive,shamanic power of music. They are so damn intense that you are hooked into their amazing, imaginative world. They sound like no other music on the planet and a glimpse Into the future world of a pop culture completely fractured with fragments of genius being bolted together by the children of the next revolution.
Fantastic.

http://www.detour-scotland.com

http://www.myspace.com/brontoskylift

http://www.myspace.com/theseventeenthcentury

http://www.myspace.com/mothercoat

3 Responses to 3 brilliant new bands from Go North festival

  1. Hello John,

    Just read ur blog, this is brilliant. I knew you would love Bronto Skylift & the Detour guys are absolutely amazing, they have filmed a fair few of our Born To Be Wide nights too.

    Hopefully catch u soon, get u to Born To Be Wide in Edinburgh.

    All the best
    cheers Derick
    Born To Be Wide / New Found Sound

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