Intronaut & Shining

support Obsidian Kingdom
author AP date 08/09/16 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

On paper, such a diverse package as tonight’s trio of performers looks like an unmissable progressive / experimental metal extravaganza. In reality however, the bands in question must not command an especially strong following in Denmark, as even with the late stage times taken into consideration, the approximately 70 tickets sold seem like a low figure for a show that is as easy on the wallet as on the ear. But writing this kind of preamble is starting to feel like a broken record, especially when trawling the more underground genres in the Danish gig circuit, so instead of further boo-hoo, let us delve into how each of the three bands fared on this hot and humid Thursday night.

All photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen

Obsidian Kingdom

Characterising itself as one of those bands that are extremely difficult to pigeonhole, Catalan five-piece Obsidian Kingdom is the only unknown element on the evening’s palette for the undersigned. As such, the Spaniards have a clean slate, as far as I’m concerned. But it turns out that they have no need of the advantage, presenting themselves as not only the most stylistically varied, but also the liveliest overall of tonight’s three artists. The concert seamlessly transitions from distinctly 70’s porn wah-wah guitar licks through eruptions of black metal to noisy, psychedelic jams, and with the shifting style comes an equally dynamic performance. It is as though the music flows through each of the five musicians’ veins and thus gives them the ability to appreciate every nuance with exactly the right demeanour, whether it be seedy grooving, frenetic headbanging or collapsing to the ground in fascinating expressions of passion.

But as intriguing as the melting pot of influences is, there is a case to be made against the inaccessibility of the songs in general. Not that avant-garde, experimental music is supposed to pertain to pop sensibilities — but the lack of distinctive hooks means that the curious ideas rarely translate to truly memorable ones (that is, beyond the obvious ”that was pretty nifty!” effects of which there are many). The fact that Rider G. Omega’s vocals are mixed so low does little to improve the impression. Even so however, Obsidian Kingdom delivers a surprising introduction, one above all buoyed by the quintet’s wildly entertaining stage antics.

7

Shining

Although the band has thus far managed to evade my radar coverage, the Norwegian claimant to the Shining moniker have a reputation that hasn’t. Often spoken of as ‘blackjazz’, the band’s infusion of saxophone into a foundation of noisy alternative metal has seen them revered for a highly original take on the genre, and as they prove tonight, there is little missing by way of live antics either, to make them an exciting phenomenon. But unlike Obsidian Kingdom, for whom the strength comes from collective exertion, Shining’s performance is focused on frontman Jørgen Munkeby and his intoxicating energy. His frequent excursions into the audience with mad, bulging eyes, not to mention his saxophone soliloquies and exuberant interactions with the handful of fans gathered upfront, are a pleasure to behold, and the perfect fit for Shining’s jazzed out, high-energy bangers such as “Fisheye”.

The clangy, noise polluted style of Shining’s music is not everyone’s cup of tea as the crowd size both tonight and at their previous Danish appearance regrettably proves. These Norsemen like to play loud, with a bass tone that sounds like the engine of a World War II fighter plane, and the rumble sometimes has the (undesired?) side effect of obscuring the semblances of lasting value in the band’s songs. But then, without a doubt, it is not the music that should shoulder the main weight of Shining’s magnetism in the live setting; rather, it is the frenzied and exuberant showmanship of Munkeby & his colleagues their allure stems from, and in this department the quintet excels.

7

Intronaut

In terms of the music, Intronaut represents the one prong in tonight’s trident that is most compatible with my personal taste and, objectively speaking, the most complex. As ever, the ramifications of writing such intricate, technically demanding music is that the Los Angeles, CA quartet is unable to match Shining and Obsidian Kingdom in terms of physical expression, spending the duration of the concert in fixed stances instead. But with the help of moody lighting, trippy projections and songs to lose yourself in, the band is nonetheless able to establish itself on par with those two with a selection of songs flush with detail, texture and striking dynamics. The music of Intronaut exists in some gray area between Isis, Mastodon and The Ocean, with frontman Sacha Dunable utilising both strained clean and harsh growled vocals and, in liaison with guitarist Dave Timnick, unleashing dizzying cascades of melodic scales to spurt forth from Joe Lester’s inventive and unusually pronounced bass grooves.

Indeed, with Intronaut it’s more about what they can do rather than how spazzy they can be. There is an understated magnetism to it that draws us further in with each passing minute, the music growing more beautiful, more manifold as the clock ticks on. Intronaut’s music is designed for connoisseurs — not for those looking for quick rewards — and although you’d wish Dunable (or one of this colleagues, for that matter) were somewhat more forthcoming in their interactions with a visibly enchanted audience, it is hard to place a finger on any elements that the the Californian four piece might improve upon. The eight songs that comprise the setlist are delivered with astounding proficiency, through an ideal sound mix (the best tonight) which is heavy without compromising on the richness of Intronaut’s soundscape, and the four musicians appear just as consumed by the performance as they would, facing the larger audience that they deserve.

Setlist:

  • 01. Fast Worms
  • 02. Digital Gerrymandering
  • 03. The Pleasant Surprise
  • 04. The Unlikely Event of a Water Landing
  • 05. Sul Ponticello
  • 06. The Direction of Last Things
  • 07. City Hymnal
  • 08. The Welding

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