A steel cable is pulled tighter and tighter, fraying under pressure…
Sort-of supergroup The Blackrays returned to Manchester last night. Up front is Rhys Bloodjoy; singer and shaman. Swashbuckling peroxide-vandal David Mapson takes guitar. Gentleman drummer Oliver Harrap provides the beat and J.P. Allison is identified as bass player from his obligatory bassist’s beard.
J.P. and Oliver lock into clockwork grooves; taut and resilient. Churning out a precise beat, they operate with a machine-like efficiency. Together they make the hardest rhythm section this side of The Janitors. J.P. threw up comparisons with Peter Hook and J.J. Burnel. Oliver’s drumming is amped tribalism.
Mapson’s guitar is machinery going haywire; shedding bolts of lighting, letting loose arcs of voltage. Shard and blocks of noise occasionally emerge from the barrage. You can see the lineage of bands like Wire in there.
Sheets of noise from the guitar and a dreadnought groove from the rhythm section; these elements play out, yet appear to have the barest interest in each other. This works to their favour. The union of these two forces bring a stark clarity. Just three instruments create a harsh mechanised sound that is operating both smoothly and malfunctioning at the same time.
Blackrays may well be the Gang Of Four of the psych scene. Adjectives such as economy and tension fit perfectly. Both bands relish the sensation of barely containing their explosive energy to the point where the atmosphere crackles in anticipation. Both use rigidity as a medium for dancing.
So far we have been neglected the shamanic Bloodjoy. A Romantic poet lost in a Tarantino movie. Capturing the insolence of Mark E Smith and the rock ‘n’ roll animalism of Iggy Pop he prowls the stage as a caged wolverine.
‘Here They Come’ was the highlight of the set, oddly reminiscent of ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ pumped full of steroids. Powered by a bassline that made 99% of rock music redundant it was scorching, militant fare.
Evil hoodoo for evil times.
Click to watch the video for ‘Endless’