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Barn Owl - Wharf Chambers, Leeds - 29th April 2013 (Live Review)

Tuesday, 07 May 2013 Written by Ben Bland

Wharf Chambers may seem a funny place for a drone gig but this little co-operative club, just a short walk from the centre of Leeds, has been getting a reputation locally of late for staging some of the best leftfield gigs in the city. Aidan Baker was here earlier in the year, and Barn Owl have arrived to promote their newest opus, the brilliant ‘V’.

Fieldhead and A-Sun Amissa are two of Leeds’ most notable recent exports into the world of ambient and drone oriented music. The former is ostensibly a solo project by Paul Elam, although joined onstage by a largely perfunctory violinist for this performance. Static hisses and beats offer glimmers of new directions to no avail. Pleasant enough bedroom listening music this may be, but it is not very captivating here. A-Sun Amissa fare far better. Despite being stripped back to just the two-piece of Angela Chan and Richard Knox here, the pair conjure up a similar sort of atmosphere to Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the build-up stages of early tracks like ‘The Dead Flag Blues’.

Everyone’s really here to see Barn Owl of course and, despite a brief power outage, the duo of Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras don’t disappoint. Surprisingly guitars have been completely eschewed for live performances of late, so the slight twang of tracks like ‘The Darkest Night Since 1683’ is nowhere to be seen. Instead the focus is completely on the darker, perhaps even slightly dub infused, mindset of their latest record. It’s hard to tell exactly what is prompting the waves of sound that gradually engulf the venue but, judging from the zoned out audience, many of whom look like they are awaking from a long peaceful sleep at the conclusion, the effect is just as hypnotically life-enhancing as their previous live incarnation. An essential riposte to those who claim that this kind of music cannot work its magic in performance.

‘V’ is out now via Thrill Jockey Check out Stereoboard's review here.


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