By: Mustafa Mirreh
22 January, 2016, 09:00
Photography: Mustafa Mirreh
Would you believe that it’s been a year already since the last New Year/New Noise annual event at the Arnolfini? Time flies so fast as we’re now in mid-January and find ourselves standing inside the gallery space once again as Bristol’s forward-thinkers Howling Owl Records present another sold-out festival to kick off 2016.
Friday saw us in the intimate dark studio for the opening showcase, featuring live sets from Kayla Painter and John Bence. Supported by visuals from producer Jason Baker (The Crisis Project), Kayla’s Dual AV Screen presentation illuminate the room as songs ‘Revert’, ‘Gaga’ and ‘Railway Lines’ mesmerised the audience. John Bence followed suit with his series of “disquiet movements” that rippled sound waves of intoxicating harmonies and noises to our eardrums; it was music of equal darkness and beauty.
Friday was the calm before the storm as we returned on Saturday to the punching sounds of post punk quartet Repo Man. Our eyes were immediately drawn to frontman Bojak as his unique lyrics and freak outbursts of saxophone and violin strings drove our senses to a frenzy, fired up by the band’s scratching guitars, rumbling basslines and drum alterations to conclude a set that was both exciting and unpredictable.
Without a second to spare, out came Chrononautz with their impeccable fusion of past and future in this mind-warped presentation. Trapped by sci-fi visuals at the centre of the Arnolfini, we were struck by continuous runs of cyclical beats and surging synths as distorted noise and gut-piercing techno sent everyone on an uncontrollable rave. A gasp of air from the pummelling noise pulled us out of the main room and greeted by gigantic moving sculptures that were part of an interval curated by art collective CHAMP. Crowds gathered as mythical-like creatures paraded around the arts venue, summoned by clattering drums and rhythmic turmoil that felt right at home for this annual event.
Back into the main room and a beacon of light shined down on the angel that was Rhain. The Bristol based singer-songwriter simply stunned everyone into silence with her yearning piano ballads and operatic vocals, recalling nods to Kate Nash and Björk. A change of pace and clarity from the earlier, more accelerating live sets.
The next set however was quite the opposite. Chunks of electronics, harrowing beats and thumping drums from London’s Blood Music stomped the room on all fronts. Led by Simon Pomery and Sophie Coletta, we were treated to brutal assaults of spoken word, droned synths and distorted electronica that was intriguing, refreshing and otherworldly all at the same time.
Closing New Year/New Noise 3 was no other than Spectres, lead by label founders Joe Hatt and Adrian Dutt. The undisputed kings of noise produced a performance worthy of their title, ploughing everyone head-to-toe with gut-wrenching guitar riffs, droned synths and hazy vocals for an experience like no other. Drenched in distortion, reverb, electronics and noise, against a backdrop of black & white visuals, within seconds we were in their grasp as the band played songs from their acclaimed debut album Dying. However the pinnacle of their set was ‘Seas Of Trees’, which featured various members of the Howling Owl collective including Giant Swan, Oliver Wilde and Taos Humm, producing a thunderous wall of noise that swallowed the room whole.
New Year/New Noise 3 was nothing short of a masterpiece, bringing together another eclectic line up of forward-thinking artists set to make waves in the music industry.