Sonic Cathedral is an excellent record label and club that edges towards the shoegazing scene, and which promotes both bands from the past and also those from the current crop of acts now billed under the banner, Nu-Gaze. Its current base in the West End of London is at the Social, a club and bar owned by Heavenly Records, which promotes labels, clubs and alternative music scenes there.

The first of two Sonic Cathedral nights I recently attended featured a DJ set by Maps. I interviewed James Chapman. whose project Maps is. for Pennyblackmusic a good while back, but until this gig I hadn't actually met him. We said hello and chatted about groups like My Bloody Valentine. He also mentioned to me that he has recorded five new tracks, which will possibly appear on the follow-up album to 'We Can Create', Maps' debut album which was one of the Mercury Prize nominees.

Autumn Chorus were the first band on of the evening. They hail from Brighton, and were as trippy and loud as you would expect, but also had an element of Starsailor and Tim Buckley about them.

Originally billed as doing a DJ set, German musician and remixer Ulrich Schnauss followed and in fact played live. He wasn't on stage as the stage at the venue was too small, so I stood by his side as he worked his lap top, and added noises and loops and played live keyboards for over 40 minutes of pure shoegazing bliss. At the end of his set, James from Maps played drums and headliners, Airiel, played live Rickenbackers on full power, bringing Ulrich's set to a dramatic, but ear shattering conclusion.

Airiel, who came on after Maps, come from Chicago and were so loud that they were almost inaudible, but made a sound in the style of Ride and pre-Creation era My Bloody Valentine.

My next visit to Sonic Cathedral was to see my current new favourite live band, A Place to Bury Strangers. I had originally planned to see this New York trio who had come over from America on their first UK tour at all four of their London shows, but I only ended up seeing them twice because they were coming on very late most nights and I also seriously feared for my hearing.

First up were The Pity Party from Los Angeles, who are a two piece which consists of female keyboardist, drummer and singer Heisenflei and guitarist and backing vocalist, M. Their music sounded like a combination of Spaceman 3 and the Kills, while Heisenflei's vocals edged towards Tori Amos, Kate Bush, and even had a little Beth Gibbons from Portishead and PJ Harvey in them.

They were followed by local group Tambourines, who released their first 7 inch on Sonic Cathedral and who had a bad night with their music being so loud that it blew their sound speakers up. This three piece have a psychedelic and garage rock sound,sounding like the Jesus or Mary Chain or Spacemen 3 but with a paisley pop edge.

A Place to Bury Strangers finally came on very late at about 10.50 p.m. and are the loudest band I have ever seen. Tonight they played a mere six songs, but the fifth track was fifteen minutes of gorgeous guitar wah wah assault. Vocalist Oliver Ackermann's vocals were almost inaudible and they made the Stooges seem quiet. It was pure bliss, very loud to the point of being ear bleeding in fact, and it sounded very much for the most part like there was a war being fought between Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, although on one track they sounded like the Cure. I told Oliver afterwards that it was a bit quiet tonight and he told me the venue wouldn't let them play any louder. If they did perhaps, I wouldn't have hearing today.

A brilliant two nights.

Thanks, Sonic Cathedral.











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Commenting On: Social, London, 30/4/2008 - Sonic Cathedral Nights, 30/4/2008 and 12/5/2008








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