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Dead & BuriedPartly Faithful
Release The Bats
Das Fluff

Dead & Buried @ Hackney Trashbar, London
Friday August 31 2012

 

In three knocked-together basements up the non-gentrified end of the Kingsland Road, rock 'n' roll is going on. This is the current home of the Dead And Buried club, London's provider of blatant batcavery: a monthly trash-glam noisefest that takes as its cue that moment in the 80s when punk decided to hold a party in the graveyard, and accidentally invented goth.

These days, of course, goth can mean many things, from bouncy synthpop to rampaging metal. But Dead And Buried still plays by the old school rules. This is where twenty-first century post-punks get their heart of darkness on.

And this is where Das Fluff get themselves on stage and make a surprisingly rocky, guitar-laden noise at us, all caterwauled vocals and great schlanging wedges of guitar.

This is surprising because Das Fluff describe themselves as an electronic band - 'Electro sleaze pop', to be exact. In the photos and videos on their website the band come across as a kind of bonkers Goldfrapp, which, as a concept, has a lot going for it. But the Das Fluff in front of me look like their only concept is that there is no concept, and their sound veers wildly from a kind of Switchblade Symphony-esque madness-in-the-nursery wail to full-on diva-rock.

Das FluffIt's all curiously random - rather like the Fluffs themselves. They're a disparate bunch: the kilted geezer standing behind the laptop, like a prog-metal fan who's been press-ganged into sorting out the electronics, the glam-rock drummer at the back, the rockabilly bloke in a geography teacher's jacket, swinging his guitar with an aplomb that suggests he's in charge.

And then there's the singer...who looks like she couldn't quite decide whether to be a twenties flapper, a folkie earth mother, or a be-corseted fetish queen, so ended up wearing bits of all three outfits.

Now, before you say, "Aw, man, never mind what they look like, it's the music that matters" - let's just remind ourselves that rock 'n' roll is an audio-visual art form, as Das Fluff themselves appreciate. The band's online presence has been carefully slanted towards a particular sound and image. It does seem strange, then, that they don't carry it through into real lfe. I mean, they're not bad - but they seem curiously unfinished. C'mon, guys. Bonkers Goldfrapp. Just keep hold of that, OK?

In complete contrast, Release The Bats know exactly what they want to be. They want to be a heavy metal version of The Horrors.

Well, maybe not metal, exactly, but they're certainly at home to The Rock. Vast, towering powerchords thunder from the PA as the band swing in to a set of rifftastic bombast so huge and loud that it practically lifts the paving slabs in the street above our heads. Release The Bats don't deal in that namby-pamby subtlety stuff. They just rock, with a kind of gung-ho enthusiasm that makes Andrew W.K. look like Joyce Grenfell.

Release The BatsAnd yet, the band does seem to be keeping at least half a foot in the new wave paddling pool.

Let's face it, if you call your band Release The Bats, a name with instant early-days Nick Cave associations, that puts you in the urban-tribal end of post punk at a stroke.

And if your singer comes on all geeky-goofy, in a skinny black suit and pointy boots, with hair falling over his face - well, I saw The Horrors, years ago when they were still playing support slots, and Faris Badwan was rocking exactly that schtick, even down to the curtain of hair.

In a way, it's as if Release The Bats want to have their cake and eat it. They wanna rock out like they're all secret members of the Judas Priest fan club, but they want some of that supercool noo wave action, too. Right now, I think The Rock is winning the battle for the band's collective psyche. Interestingly, immediately after the band finish, the DJ slaps down a slice of early Horrors. This may not be a deliberate attempt to make a point. But, nevertheless, the point is made.

Partly FaithfulA few things have changed in the crazy undersea world of the Partly Faithful since we last set eyes on the band. Well, to be exact, one thing has changed. The band's original guitarist, Gemma Thompson, is now a full-time Savage.

Tonight, Anouska Haze makes her debut as head of the band's six string department. She brings a certain attention to detail to the band's guitar sound: those sweeps of fuzzy noise that counterpoint the thump and rumble of the rhythm are now more pointed, spikier. She's the John McGeoch to Gemma Thompson's John McKay.

While we're in the comparison zone, perhaps we should note that Partly Faithful vocalist Ed Banshee has sometimes been compared to Peter Murphy, but tonight he's in full-on Jaz Coleman mood. He stares at us from beneath a hoodie, exuding divine discontent, the intense eye of the band's churning storm. He's all bug eyes and scorn as he enunciates his lyrics in a scathing lecture.

Strapped to the mic stand he has a strange, triangular wooden frame with a small flag bearing the band's logo lashed to the woodwork. It's either a voodoo fetish or a trampoline for a hipster Action Man, but as the band pitch in to 'Needles', their jagged, everything-is-wrong anthem, it does help to create the impression that this band is marching into battle, colours held aloft, ready rage and flail against a world where the economy is floundering, society is fragmenting, the wheels are coming off and no-one's driving. Or, at the very least, they're going to get Partly Faithfula right old kvetch on about it.

The Partly Faithful might go digging in the post-punk mine for most of their influences, but in some ways they're very much of now. The band's noise - all seething stomp and shudder, the vocals soaked in disdain - sounds like an instinctive response to these falling-apart times. All you twenty-first century post-punks, the soundtrack to your dystopia starts here.

 

Partly Faithful: Website | Facebook

Release The Bats: Website | Facebook

Das Fluff: Website | Facebook

 

Dead And Buried: Website | Facebook


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