Varied descriptions of the bands playing tonight left me excited but quite unsure what to expect. Woe apparently combine the ethos of punk and hardcore with quiet folk and jazz instrumentation, while Rollerball were described as a gypsy-band Godspeed you black emporer!

Woe cleary abandoned their quiet ethos on the night, giving us an empassioned set of percussive jazz-core. They abandon any semblance of melodic song structure, instead leaving us to concentrate on the feeling and intensity behind their bass-heavy soundscapes. What differentiates them from other hardcore bands is that the underlying style has its roots more in jazz than punk - thankfully they manage to bring out the best of both worlds, combining experimental jazz textures with tight rhythmic attack.They rotate instruments after every song, with sax and trumpet riffs adding some treble to the looming bass, math-rock guitar abuse and heavy drum patterns. In fact they seem to treat every instrument as percussion, concentrating more on the overall sound than chords and melodies. Their tight playing converted what could've been an experimental mess into an intense and entertaining set.

Rollerball made an intriguing follow-up to Woe's jazz-tinged instrumental attacks. Their songs are built from similarly experimental textures and jazz instrumentation, but they add heartfelt vocal stylings and an array of manic percussion to create a lighter more folky feel. Their songs have a smoky air to them, an organic improvised sound built around driving basslines, repeated keyboard melodies and blasts of accordion, sax and clarinet. They seem influenced by the sounds of old gypsy bands, with modal melodic explorations and the singer's intriguing dance and vocal style. A collection of jangling shakers and a percussion bracelet we were informed was made from goat's toenails all adds to the effect. They combine this with avant-jazz reeds and keyboards, at times building up into a frenzy that resembles Miles Davis at his best. Sometimes fast, intense and overwhelming, sometimes slower and more melodic, I was left wondering what to expect next after each song reached its climax. Highly original stuff and worth checking out on record. Rollerball's new album, 'The Trail of the Butter Yeti', is out now.

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Commenting On: London Arts Cafe, 18th May 2001 - Woe / Rollerball

ie London, England

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