This gig occurred on the eve of widespread climate change demonstrations. Here was a raging soundtrack to our burning world. Enthusiastic pogoing by those at the front did not prevent close listening to the repeating guitar figures, which curiously evoked both police sirens and nursery rhymes, over sheets of ear-bleeding axe noise and popping polyrhythmic drum figures.
Founded in 1979 by Dutch singer Jos Kley (aka GW Sok), the initially anarcho-punk band has survived many changes of personnel over the last four decades. Indeed, the curiosity, energy, enthusiasm for improvisation and openness to experimentation and collaboration with diverse musicians and bands, notably at their own regular Ex Festivals, has only increased with time.
Drummer (and occasional vocalist) Katherina Bornefeld opened the set with pile-driving intensity, before setting out varieties of polyrhythm, triggering happy memories for this listener of the band’s excellent recordings with esteemed late Ethiopian jazz tenor saxophonist, Getatchew Mekuria. Meanwhile, newest band member, charismatic lead vocalist and guitarist Arnold de Boer, stood almost motionless as he projected his politically-charged vocals, as busy guitarists, Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels wove glitchy conniptions, sometimes with extended technique, taking turns to shred thunderously, before the soundscape typically unravelled in a kind of magnificent decomposition. It all felt very liberating. This is rich, dynamic and captivating music.