by Elliot Davies
The mighty Acid Box put on an evening of transcendental forward-thinking grooves to counter the St. George Blues.
I don’t live in Brighton. But if I did, the good people at Acid Box would be sick of the sight of me by now. They put on some good shows. And they sell some very good t-shirts.
WTVR might stand for “WhiteTelevisionRoyalty”, or it might be a garbled text-speak growl of “whatever”. They describe themselves as “electro-accordion post punk”, and there’s no arguing with that. However, were I tasked with writing their press releases, I might be more tempted to describe them as “skittish-CircusSludgeProg.”
They’re dressed as these sort of combat shamanic jugglers with colourful gowns and painted glittery faces, and their songs won’t sit still or a minute. Regrettably, we only manage to catch the latter half of their set. We arrive just in time for an infectious jittery nightmare about wedding night erection failure. It’s a song called Wedding Night Erection Failure, and it sounds like precisely the sort of niggling refrain a groom might hear in his head when struggling to rise to the occasion.
The most remarkable thing is the accordion. You’d expect a band that uses an accordion as their lead instrument to sound like The Tiger Lillies, DeVotchKa, or Gogol Bordello. But I have never heard an accordion used like this before. It’s an electro-accordion, you see. It’s wired. At the touch of a button is can deliver whatever fresh madness is needed to drive these demented breakdowns – whether it’s a fuzzy bass tone or a haunted carnival Farfisa.
WTVR are welcome to dine at my club anytime they get peckish. They were kind enough to give away their Acid Fight for free at the merch stand – the CD was available in a choice of colours – and you can hear it yerself on their BandCamp.
Melt Dunes identify as “dark psyche”, so of course, they’re not nearly as fun as WTVR. But they’re every bit as compelling. This is widescreen rock for the nocturnal stoner in your life – perfect for dive bars, killing sprees, and desperate motorcycle maintenance. Brooding grooves for those who like to be alone with their thoughts. Scuzzy sounds for daring hitchhikers.
So you know how Primal Scream scream from a different hymn sheet on each album? Between their tours, they don’t so much enter the studio as enter a chrysalis. The band transforms, and so does the music.
Now. Imagine if, in that space between two albums, a little bit of liquid sound were to somehow ooze from Bobby Gillespie’s mixing desk and sneak out of the studio. This is unbridled half-formed hybrid sound, not quite done evolving. Think of the failed Ripley/Alien experiments from Alien Resurrection.
But rather than a pitiful half-woman begging for the respite of death, this liquid hybrid is a groovy mercurial shapeshifter. And it will take on new forms depending on the specific session from which it escaped.
Tonight picture the ooze that slithered away from the sessions between Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR. That ooze is Melt Dunes. They combine the loose haziness of the former with the electric aggression of the latter.
And even better, they never stop playing. I don’t know if they’re powering through a single really long song, or if they’ve learned to blend their songs seamlessly together (a technique that will always appeal to me); but either way, theirs is a brooding soundscape that never ceases to enthrall.
Have you ever drunk far too much sangria far too early in the day, only to have to traverse a crowded and sweltering beach while wearing nothing but black? It’s heady. It’s an experience so woozy that your mind would probably leave your body, were your body not feeling so leaden.
Fumaça Preta are the sonic equivalent of the boozy fruit left over once you’ve finished your sangria – if that fruit were pureed, fermented, and used as a means to take the acrid edge off a pint of mushroom-enriched macha. This is dark tropicalia; fuzzy fuggy rituals that will melt your brain and make your food taste better.
They’re touring their new album Impuros Fanáticos, which somehow manages to outdank their none-more-dank self-titled debut. Brazilian and Caribbean rhythms lock demonic horns with funk-dub grooves, over which ghostly Hammond organs drone and blistering acid rock guitars sear. Their sound fills the air like an intoxicating incense, and the crowd responds as if possessed.
Some pogo. Some mosh. Most undulate. One dives from the stage. There’s a guy who’s clearly just clocked-off from work. He’s still wearing his Deliveroo jacket. This is his respite. He’s escaped. He’s earned it.
I’ve definitely been listening to too much of something, because my only complaint is that these miraculous jams don’t last nearly as long as it feels like they should. Take Recitando à Toa, for example. It’s completely irresistible, four minutes of uplifting rhythmic bliss. But they could happily have maintained that energy for 15 minutes or more. Who knows where the magick would have taken us?
They peak with their theme tune. It kicks off with some scorching Sabbath riffs which give way, quite without warning, to some clunking Aphex electronics, an analogue acid bath. Shamanic bandleader Alex Figueira falls into the crowd, desperately muttering in garbled Portuguese. As soon as he makes it back to the stage the band launches into a screamo punk thrash, which lasts all of 20 seconds. This fire only serves to heat the simmering cauldron, until the swirling brew is finally allowed to boil over. We are united in our triumphant cries: