26 March 2016

Event review – Hush Hush Cinema #10 with live set from Arabrot, 18th March, Stoke on Trent

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Hush Hush Cinema events are unique. I know this as I was involved in #8, performing a live score to a rather ancient black and white film. The location is a secret, the theme is a secret, the film is a secret. Just turn up at some prearranged coordinates and Hush Hush will take care of the rest.

Tonight’s coordinates land us next to a clock in Hanley center, Stoke on Trent. We are greeted by ladies and gents dressed all is white, rather vacant smiles and wide eyes. They assure us ‘we need a break’ and that we’ve ‘been working hard’. We are split into groups and taken on a surreal whirlwind tour of a secret rather non existent version of Hanley including duck ponds and fields of wind chimes.

Finally we arrive at ‘The Sanctuary’, which in truth should have been named ‘The Asylum’. As part of our well earned ‘break’ the various groups were subjected to various treatments and therapies in different darkened rooms, led by our mysterious and slightly alarming guides. Myself, I was ‘sectioned’ into laughter therapy, to join in the uncomfortable amusement of the gathered. As the evening progressed, we took on the aspect of lost souls trapped in an office block asylum.

The next stage of our break in the sanctuary was the film segment of our evening, a showing of ‘A Page of Madness’ which hails from Japan circa 1926 having also been entirely lost for half a century along the way. Originally a silent movie set in an asylum, tonight it was presented with a jarring score and interjected with quotes from our ‘keepers’. Unsettling and baffling. As the film ends, it feels like Arabrot are offered up as a reward for our good behavior, and what a reward.

1458341812709Seeing ARABROT perform in an upper floor of a disused office building to a captive audience of a few dozen was thrilling. It felt private, special and unique. It was also a rare treat to see such a band so close up and personal. Arabrot, an art/noise rock band from Norway are pretty special in any case. Treading musical roads between the likes of Swans, Unsane, Shellac and Neurosis, tonight was always going to be a noisy affair. Thankfully it was an exceptionally enjoyable set of abrasive tones. The sound was great given the temporary nature of the venue space and the subtle red lighting was perfect for the performance, delivered via mood vocals, duelling synths, meaty guitars and bass, all pinned down with some mighty tub thumping. 1458341761186Arabrot are not a band you’d describe as easy listening but tonight they were an easy pleasure. I would urge anyone who appreciates the above mentioned bands and artful noisy rock in general to acquire Arabrot’s latest release ‘The Gospel’. Pay attention also if you like events with a different as I’m sure Hush Hush Cinema have plenty more weirdness up their white sleeves.