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Friday, December 5, 2008

Winterkalte @ Exposure - Washington, DC

Winterkalte @ Exposure, Washington, DC

Being a huge Rhythmic Noise fan, I was pretty fucking psyched to see that WINTERKALTE (the veritable godfathers of power noise?) was going to be playing my city. Without going through a long boring background story on DC, there is currently no power noise scene here to speak of, so it’s quite rare that a band like this will come through. Anyway who cares about introductions, lets get to the review:

There were two bands, and the first was local act Hopeful Machines. This is a side project of the dude in the goth rock band Ego Likeness. I have to divulge that I went into this act quite let down, because one of the promoters claimed to be having “orphx or vromb” open this show. So, I went in fully expecting to see one of them and instead I got a local goth rock guy. Anyway I’m not sure what sort of music to call Hopeful Machines. Some of it was a bit noisey (possibly because of the loud volume), some was EBM-y, and there was some ambient stuff too. The performance was pretty boring. It was one guy with two midi controllers who bobbed back and forth for 34 minutes straight. No interacting with the audience, not much movement. He had video projections, but the stage was small and the screen was approximately 1 foot behind him. He is a very tall guy, so between him and his equipment, most of the video was blocked. On top of that the video projector equipment was placed directly in the middle of the dance floor preventing people from utilizing that space (which sucked because the venue was pretty compact and everyone was squeezed in tightly already). So, as I mentioned before the volume was loud. Really loud. This made some of the drumbeats sound pretty noisey which was cool, but aside from that it was almost agonizingly loud. This wouldn’t have been such an issue, but a lot of the sounds were of inconsistent volumes. So the music would be moving along in a decent noise beat, then another few sounds would come in MUCH louder than everything and sound terrible and annoying. Some of that was probably the lack of a dedicated sound guy, but since dude was using a laptop he really could’ve put compressors on his noises. The music was fairly inconsistent; it seemed like a lot of random noises and beats piled on top of each other with some EBM-ish synth work interspersed. Some of the beats were nice, but mostly I found myself thinking “meh”. There was one really cool ambient piece that broke up the harder stuff nicely. Overall it was a pretty mediocre one man quasi-noise show.

Next up was Winterkalte. I like Winterkalte, but to be honest I really don’t listen to them that much. However, the one guy runs the label Hands, so hands down (sorry) I had to get out and support them. I had no real expectations going in, and I was pretty happy with their show. Winterkalte is basically two middle aged german dudes, one on keys and one on drums. It sounds like the keyboard is run through a minimum of 50 distortion pedals, and the drum pads triggered both drums and misc noises. The music was loud. Very loud. Probably twice as loud as the opener who was already bordering on painfully loud. For about 95% of the show I had earplugs in and I couldn’t hear half of what was actually happening. Despite that, Winterkalte was awesome for two reasons:

  1. They actually played a good deal (maybe all) of the music
  2. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen guys have more fun playing together

They came out, played their equipment, produced some pretty cool music, and got really into it. I can’t ask for much more.

Two things about this show really sucked: the first is how fucking loud it was. Now, I like loud music as much as the next guy, but when there is so much intense abrasive distorted sound, it becomes fatiguing and painful quickly. The second is that every Winterkalte song sounded exactly the same. They were all 6 minutes of crazy distortion and pummeling beats. I think (hope) most of this was due to the volume and the fact that I had earplugs in. But, the good thing is that this was not generic linear noise which is so prevalent in recent years. They use a lot of interesting and fairly unique drum and noise patterns.

In conclusion, if you like power noise and Winterkalte is coming to your town than definitely check them out. Watching the two of them do their thing, and have so much fun while doing it, will inspire and captivate you. The line ups for the rest of the
US dates are fucking sick too, so you’d be a real idiot to miss one of them if you’re in the area.

-Dan Barrett

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