Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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October 2019

LIVE REVIEW: Goat, Alice, 09.10.2019

in Live Reviews by
Goat live at Alice Copenhagen

Mention of the band Goat brings to mind a certain group of Swedes in elaborate costumes. The Japanese band Goat, however, are far more minimalistic. Their stuttering, rhythm-driven music is often austere, their style of playing is extremely efficient.

It’s a busy night for guitarist/drummer Koshiro Hino, who opens the evening with a set of his YPY project. Compared with the austerity of Goat, YPY is positively lush. The percussion is softer and there is a high frequency whine similar to the sounds emitted by electronic gadgets — the first sounds to go when you lose your hearing. The tables around Koshiro are scattered with dozens of cassette tapes.

Goat opens with dueling hi-hats. The gentle, synchronized clacking is shattered when the first kick drum hits like a sledgehammer, disabusing the audience of the notion that, for as repetitive and steady as the beats are, they could possibly be meditative. The bass has almost zero reverb, creating an anxious timbre that Devo could only dream of.

Goat live at Alice Copenhagen

This lack of transcendence is practically a theme for the set; the focus of the entire band is intense, their playing is highly coordinated. There are two drummers or a drummer and percussionist at a minimum, and the glances the band members communicate through have the hard focus of an angry glare. But for their minimal movements, they are fascinating to watch. These glances back and forth trigger astounding changes, such as when Koshiro suddenly plays harmonics on his guitar timed perfectly to rapid first hits on a hi-hat, shifting to an instantly percussive sound.

The majority of the set follows this halting pattern, which makes the final 15 minutes of noise washes hit the audience hard. After all of the energy of their playing has built up, it spills out in a final, furious cacophony. The audience are physically moved; Half are swaying, half are holding their ears because of the shock. It’s not surprising that they end with the same perfectly-time abruptness that has factored throughout their set. 

In response to the rapturous applause, Koshiro comes back to the stage alone. “Thank you,” he says, leaning into the drum mic. “No more songs.”

LIVE REVIEW: Marissa Nadler, Ideal Bar, 30.09.2019

in Live Reviews by
Marissa Nadler live at Ideal Bar in Copenhagen

Marissa Nadler is an artist whose work contains multitudes in its subtleties. Her soft, ghostly voice and finger-picked guitars transcend folk music into something more spirited, more haunting, and clearly calling from another plane.

Her performance at Ideal Bar is a solo set with a six string guitar, a 12 string guitar, and infinite multi-tracking options. Nadler drives herself to distraction in her concern about the sound, repeatedly motioning to her sound guy and halting a song literally a note in over the tuning. “You can put this in your review,” she says by way of apology. “I just want to get this right so I can feel it for you guys.”

She’s too hard on herself, but it’s easy to empathize with her fixation. A musician can’t write songs with her nuances without some degree of fanaticism. And it plays out in interesting ways for audience members willing to home in on the details.

“All Out of Catastrophes” is the first song to illustrate the complexities of her songs. Nadler builds layer upon layer of looped guitars before turning her attention to her vocals. Far from simply echoing her own voice, she harmonizes and emphasizes different aspects of the verse with each round. It’s a direct insight to how she must record her vocals in the studio, a treat for nerds and a wonder for normal people. 

Adding to the ghostly quality of her voice is its unwavering softness, no matter how high a note she hits. There are a few moments when she lilts towards a country voice — a completely convincing parallel track her to have taken in her music and her lyrics — and you wonder if she’s repressing an urge or revealing another dimension. Knowing Nadler’s work, she could hint at this new element in future albums and performances, or quietly obliterate it; whatever best suits the songs.

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