In January 1909, FT Marinetti debuted his manifesto on Futurism. The 7th article of this pronounced that:
“There is no longer any beauty except the struggle. Any work of art that lacks a sense of aggression can never be a masterpiece. Poetry must be thought of as a violent assault upon the forces of the unknown with the intention of making them prostrate themselves at the feet of mankind”
This pugnacious approach seems to throb within the veins of all of the artists performing at Deliquium in 2018.
Recurring every three years, Deliquium is the product of the hard work of the two directors of MilkandLead – a pair of Italian Francescos (Vertucci and Carvelli) who have been involved in boundary-pushing installations, set design, film making, photography and graphics for well over a decade. This year they have also enlisted professor Paul Hegarty, an authority on noise music, Jean Baudrillard, and Georges Bataille, as a sound-art curator. In fact, the work of Bataille is probably a good jumping off point in terms of framing Deliquium’s approach. In The Solar Anus, Bataille wrote:
“I want to have my throat slashed while violating the girl to whom I will have been able to say: you are the night.”
Climbing the stone steps into the main room of Electrowerkz on the opening night generates a feeling which simultaneously portends to both these states.
Greeting us at the top of the stairs are the erstwhile rumblings of Raxil4. From behind projected Rorschach tests he hunches, researcher-like, over a glut of cables and devices. The sound is dense and thickening, threatening to peak. It also trembles as if accepting vulnerabilities. The man behind this – Andrew Page – doesn’t overly tinker. He allows enough space and time for us to forge our own meanings.
James Shearman is not quite as restrained. His kneeling worship of sheet metal and contact mics is much shorter and twice as sharp. Like a lanced blister of noise. He is followed by IOM, e-bowing luxuriant notes out of a psyched guitar. Sweeping sonic beams cast brief light on distant drum fodder as it starts to veer into a distorted, primordial, dissonance. The constructed sounds sway and are then demolished.
For his performance tonight, Jose Macabra built a special instrument of cymbals, springs, and horseshoes and laid it all under some robust decking. Macabra then proceeded to lie upon this and dish out a solemn beating whilst outraged chanting, scattergun percussion and angled violin combine as if driving out demons in a jarring and fearsome exorcism. Eruptions of grandeur morph into unbridled fury and, of course, it all culminates in a lively rendition of Happy Birthday (it is Jose’s birthiversary after all). Anji Cheung opts for a more sedate pose behind a laptop but this is not reflective of her output. Discrete blasts echo across the room, hunting the trails of breathy spectres. Swarms grow and pitter out. But, like a sea, it returns. Picking up thought and emotions within the static. They writhe around those wriggling noise beans as she coaxes cutting frequencies to soar from amidst the mire. There is something of sorrow burnt within.
MilkandLead seem to promote the idea of ritual decontextualised by art and this is best displayed by Noise Ladders who subverts the Orthodox Judaist tradition of wearing tefillin by sporting audio cables wrapped around his left arm and a blinking electronic box strapped to his forehead. What he unspools from the speakers, however, is brutal digital noise. Cranked ire and burst clicks form behind projections of divided Unknown Pleasures. Patch cables spaghetti across a modular synth, drawing forth staccato rave blasts and a techno thump is wrestled from the cusp of being danceable into a white noise squelch.
Nordvargr continues the ritualistic air with quaffed wine and burnt arboraceous incense. Beats are dropped as if in a cavern filling with tumbling rocks and the figure he cuts above the corrupted soundtrack is nothing short of imposing. Faint tinkles of trinkets can be heard as drones are cleaved apart in an almighty schism. A throated roar calls all to task. A dusting of white powder is applied to forearms and face before being slung out into the crowd. Industrial drums turn into military rhythms that catch scars and the phrase “Death Triumphant” is bellowed.
If Thursday was conceptually aligned to the work of the Futurists a hundred years since, then Friday is located in the 1980s. Particularly with the work of Mario Perniola in mind. Adorning the walls of Electrowerkz are the installations of Neo Fung and Ronch. The former’s Synthetic Organs pieces call to mind the body horror and eroticism of JG Ballard and David Cronenberg. Around the corner from the bar area, between cold brick walls, lies a particularly thin cinema (or thinema for portmanteau fans). Throughout these three nights, the videos of Izzy Nakhla are projected here. Vidoes that seem to be largely concerned with luck, lust, and lasagne.
On the main stage Vomir is stood stationary as deafening static spews from the speakers. Not a muscle is moved as this vex-driven noise assaults all around. Being still almost becomes a rebellious act. Aggressive, even. Goading the audience to invest, to invite a journey into our own thoughts as this motionless scene plays out. Pascal Savy’s set, by contrast, conjures kinetic allusions. Sounds swell into crackles as if rain droplets falling onto plastic. A massaging boom is emitted, attempting to disperse the clouds. Sunnic textures are formed possessing a bite, and trousers cut with less of a cling, flap. A ball-bearing appears to plummet onto a tin tray covered in copper coins, causing an amplified explosion that feels enough to pop eardrums. This rejuvenates a plethora of other sounds. Dragging bass-y heartbeats, choral gasps, and a distorted surge to life.
Merkaba Macabre sets up a massive gong on stage and then proceeds to tease it. Wooing hums, swirls, and a gentle ring from its vast circumference. Chirrups of birdcalls and the rubbed legs of grasshoppers lend this the feel of a Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement set whilst I could hardly contain the Pavlovian desire for that big fucker of a metal disc to be be banged. But I was left wiping frothing drool from my tantalised jaw. Khost, however, deliver on all of their promises. Starting with a slew of feedback and regimented industrial thuds, they soon floor the audience with demonic growls and ungodly, subterranean rumbles. Whenever it seems in danger of splintering off into chaos, the wily percussion forces structure upon us. There is no space to hide from their slow motion onslaught. Shards of hanging doom are ploughed into dust and a chorus of despair rings out across the room.
The running order for Friday seemed to take a few deviations but I’m fairly certain that the next noise instigator was Colossloth. A purveyor of grinding garbles from which a dainty melody struggles to swim to the surface. Deep throbs soar and clash with a metallic top end. Flashes of silence prove to be only a ruse before the next wave of violence. And the violence here is literal. Brutality is wreaked upon an electronic tablet. Some members of the audience take a seat on the floor despite, or because of, the abject discomfort. Is discomfort always sought when you feel attacked? There is a brief respite here as plucked harmonies rise up and then the malevolence is back. Discomfort only exists in opposition to comfort. A brief reminder of the latter serves to make the former even more formidable.
Next up, Satori delivers a focussed and drilled set. This outpouring is carefully manufactured. It’s industrial like industry: mechanical and aware of impending rhythmic deadlines. Incendiary political speech becomes incendiary techno, pummelling thoughts and eliciting despair. Originally formed in 1997, 2nd Gen play tonight as a duo – Wajid Yaseen on all manner of electronics and decay, whilst Gwen Delune, painted green and topless, delivers entrancing vocals which slide from barefaced shrieks to soothing croons and then caterwauling yowls. All of this whilst Yaseen causes synths to collapse and clang. For a period they lock into the sort of sexually charged groove that David Lynch returns to time and time again. But this doesn’t last long and we’re soon back to unsettling builds with head-clasped wails.
It’s perhaps beneficial at this point to highlight a quote from the aforementioned sound art curator, Paul Hegarty:
“These are artists who want to push you as a listener, viewer, toucher, taster. They feel the competing powers that define human and inhuman experience and press this upon the audience. This is work that requires the presence of the artist and the engagement – sometimes submission – of the public.”
Saturday starts with gentle ambience. With a heartbeat forming an undercurrent as a flood of bass is reduced to a flicker. Sequencial draws a shrill rush from the rippling water. Metal is bowed. Patience is required as seemingly mundane drones gradually morph into showers of sparking metal. A distant voice calls out and that ocean liner-sized bass returns, giving it all a feeling of marching into oblivion. Unfortunately She Spread Sorrow had to pull out, manifesting her name into a reality.
Throughout this year’s Triennial, engaging and experimental visuals have been projected onto a semi-translucent screen in front of the acts by Spanish-born visual artist They Said They Saw. But, for Horologium, Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet is cast onto the mesh. A sinister score is mustered with keys drowning in a shroud of mystery which grows and mutates into a cantankerous industrial rhythm. Like a runaway train with dustbin lid wheels. This is anxiety given a beat. Panicked drums deliver a sense of hopelessness that seems befitting of the imagery, which, in turn, swerves from occult to surreal and hallucinatory. Strings are plucked only to vanish and return caked in malice. Aptly tyrannical rumbles finish this off, devastating any lingering tranquillity.
Searing buzz-saw guitars and petrified vocals announce the start of Gnaw Their Tongues‘ set. This is music that seems to be formed from a wretched place. The noise of all things disintegrating. Blast beats of skull-pummelling proportion are utilised to transform wanton rage into sound waves. Tracks are dropped from the new album – Genocidal Majesty – including ’10 Bodies Hanging’ which feels utterly berserk, somehow more unhinged. Maurice De Jong takes on the air of a rabid dictator, angrily screeching for his bidding to be done. It’s a show of power. Calm is allowed to drift in, however, but little tolerance is expelled upon it. Sheer horror and dense doom gallop into the sort of vicious Black Metal that pulps and thrills.
There are no coddling pretences with Italian Books either. Just pustulous fury from the beginning. He is all fuming yelps over spasming ruin. Forcing himself up against the screen, raiding tapes for samples, and browbeating frequencies against their hated other. Coercing them to embrace. To draw a vibrant unity from their collision. IB stalks and roams the stage like a man hoping for possession. Reverb saturated vocals slam into the cacophonous power of manipulated electronics, creating something which will still be considered harsh even after multiple lifetimes have disappeared.
The balaclava-clad duo of MDS51 warm up with American hate speech and misdemeanours. The faces of George W Bush and Richard Nixon flash up over rigid snaps and seismic wobbles. They demand that we make noise not war. And that’s fair enough. Aggressive sounds are not equatable with aggressive souls. Housing an anger and disgust at the state of things should not be confused with war-mongering, blood lust. There is a revolutionary jolt to proceedings as this tilts into bumping cadence and twitched beats. Noise has never been a vessel for mainstream ideologies and this pair differ from the likes of Alec Empire and Atari Teenage Riot by focussing on the message over cyberpunk styling. It’s an anarchic techno ride in which ideas and perspective are paramount. Similarities to a more dystopian Underground Resistance cannot be side-stepped. Particularly when the hubbub diverges from noise into more recognisable structures. This is an abusive slew of sound that feels utterly justified. One half of MDS51 hunkers over the lit up circuitry, whilst the other stands firm, dressed as if paramilitary, dictating with a parade-ground bark over increasingly splattered electronics.
More of this continues throughout the night but the state of rail services necessitates an exit at this point. To end we shall return to the beginning and go back to the Futurists. In 1913 Luigi Rossolo wrote in his manifesto – The Art of Noise:
“The variety of noises is infinite. We certainly possess nowadays over a thousand different machines, among whose thousand different noises we can distinguish. With the endless multiplications of machinery, one day we will be able to distinguish among ten, twenty, or thirty thousand different noises. We will not have to imitate these noises but rather combine them according to our artistic fantasy.”
With this in mind, who knows what fresh sounds 2021 will bring?