RAVEN CHACON (USA), OvO (Italy), FIRE! (Sweden) and DEERHOOF (USA), Bronson Club, Ravenna 20th March 2014.
This year’s three-day Transmissions Festival has been curated by a Albuquerque duo Hawk And A Hacksaw.
Experimental and uncompromising artists have been the staple of previous editions and this year is no different. The opening show featured an impressively eclectic mix of styles and talents. Here are my impressions of each artist:
RAVEN CHACON – A heavy-set Native American who plays daunting noise on what looks like a purpose-built electronics board. The blast of harsh industrial sounds are as digestible as the plastic tubes he fed into his mouth to literally become part of the machinery. Rating 3/10
OvO – this menacing looking doom duo look as they have emerged from some dark pagan pit where they have sustained themselves on a diet of horror b-movies. In a plain black vest, the tattooed and muscular drummer Bruno Dorella looks like a butcher or a wrestler while singer/guitarist Stefania Pedretti’s gothic stage gear is a cross between that of a wayward witch and a ragged prostitute. Her vocals could have been modelled on the demonic voice of Regan in The Exorcist. Her dreadlocks, stretching almost to her ankles add to the unearthly appearance. Her fierce, nightmarish screams and mantras are like a soundtrack to some dark rituals and is impressive for their raw physicality. Rating 7/10
FIRE! are relatively conventional by comparison. This musically accomplished trio deliver a solid 45 minutes worth of proggy free jazz. They are led by Mats Gustafsson who plays electric organ and a vintage saxophones with serious intent. Backed by a formidable rhythm section they are technically sophisticated yet I found it hard to engage with their dour, business-like performance. They make no attempt to connect with the audience as though wrapped up in their own desire to achieve perfection. Rating 6/10
DEERHOOF Round off proceeding in great style. I’ve been vaguely aware of this band without ever following their career closely. More fool me as I’ve clearly been missing out on something very special. On stage they are one of the coolest bands I’ve ever seen. The four each have their own distinct personality but look and sound great together. Singer Satomi Matsuzaki moves like a go-go girl and has an appealingly fragile, deadpan voice that is always ever so slightly out of tune. John Dieterich is neat and energetic on rhythm guitar and occasional vocals; Ed Rodriguez on lead guitar is a hipster rock’n’roll reincarnation of Javier Bardem while Greg Saunier attacks his small drum kit as if his life depended on it. (He also drinks herbal tea and speaks bad Italian) . All have great hair. Their songs lurch and change direction almost of their own volition with a heady mix of J-pop and Punk rock. This hybrid sound is packed full of energy and it’s a delight to see a band playing their music with undisguised pleasure. I was so wrapped up in their performance, I was surprised by how few people stayed to the end of the show. Those who left early missed a real treat. Rating 10/10.
Roll on Day 2