Ring Them Bells

support Scraps Of Tape
author AP date 30/11/12 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

It's Friday night, and I've got nothing better to do than see some music that I previously haven't heard of before. Mikkel Wad Larsen from our favorite Copenhagen venue Beta has done a fine job at hyping up tonight's bands, so I figure I might as well give them a shot, inviting Tim 'TL' Larsen along with me for the show. As we arrive, there isn't much to suggest that tonight's audience will exceed 20 attendees, but just as the evening's support act takes to the stage, the crowd seems to have grown into a decent 50 or so people.

Scraps Of Tape

The Swedes in Scraps of Tape navigate territory best described as the borderland between noise- and post-rock, and unlike so many other bands with three guitarists, they actually make use of the six additional strings to muster up a varied and immense soundscape. Each of the three guitarists is often playing a different melody to the other two, enabling the band to come up with beautifully layered melodies that build on and complement each other in what is one of the noisiest displays of music I have seen this year. The music is largely instrumental, with only a few lyrics uttered here and there by one of the guitarists, but it hardly makes a difference, as Scraps of Tape seem to excel at letting the instrumental parts do the talking.

In terms of performance, too, there is little to point a finger at; each band member is frequently thrashing his body around, brandishing his instrument, and generally making sure that the odd 50 or so of us present are given our money's worth - hardly a surprise considering this band apparently has 10 years to show for it. They're here to win over new fans, and it seems to be working. With songs like the brilliant, if slightly too brief opener "We Are Many", the expansive mid-set pick "Master" and the moody set concluder "Mourninglight" (which ends in a magnificent display of drums crashing to the floor, guitars being scraped against the floor and amplifiers, and microphones pushed into each other for extra feedback) keeping us endeared from beginning to end, Scraps of Tape manage to imprint themselves onto my cortex with relative ease, and if the band has plans to come to Copenhagen again, I'll most certainly be there to experience it all again.

8

Ring Them Bells

Danish boys Ring Them Bells had promised some surprises in the days leading up to this gig, and surprises they bring. They've brought three extra musicians along for the night: a baritone guitarist/theremin (the stick-like instrument that uses magnetic pick-ups to create spacy sounds when an object, such as one's hand, is in close proximity to it) player, an additional normal guitarist, and a percussionist. During the first two songs, "Feathers" and "Go Low", only the first mentioned is actually involved, but as the band moves into the more complex songs like "Napalm Makeup", the remaining two join in to create a maelstrom of noise. If you thought the three guitars of Scraps of Tape made a lot of noise, then imagine what four at once can do, especially as we are now firmly in noise-rock territory where the idea is to whip up a thundering maelstrom of sound.

The highlight of the set comes with "Oh Lord", a slow-burning, blues-ridden piece that warrants the cool demeanor of the band members, who often remind me of people like The Strokes' Julian Casablancas or The Horrors' Faris Badwan. Indeed, there is a rockstar vibe to Ring Them Bells that actually works to their advantage given the resonance effect on the vocalist's microphone and the retro sound of their songs (which sound to me like they draw considerable influence from the likes of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine). Ring Them Bells aren't quite as energetic a presence on stage as Scraps of Tape, but where they lack in stage antics, they certainly compensate with volume, so that when "Sweet to My Soul" wraps up the performance after eight songs, the amount of different punishing sounds resonating from the PA is difficult to grasp. In true noise-rock fashion, the set ends with each musician attempting to produce as much atonal noise out of their instruments as possible without actually playing anything coherent. Good stuff.

Setlist:

  • Feathers
  • Go Low
  • Napalm Makeup
  • Oh Lord
  • Sunny Youth
  • River Skulls
  • Jans Jul
  • Techno Colour
  • Sweet to My Soul

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