The Mutations Festival was born out of the success of last years ‘DRILL:BRIGHTON’ festival, due to the perfect combination of exciting and contemporary musical artists, and the audacious tastes of young and old Brightonians. Acts like ‘Swans’, ‘Courtney Barnett’ and ‘Fvnerals’ had played to large and lively audiences throughout many of Brighton’s brilliant venues in 2014. This year, there was an eclectic trove of artists hailing from the west coast of America, New York and Canada. ‘Lightning Bolt’, ‘Chelsea Wolfe’, and ‘Dan Friel’ are only some of the rising pioneers of modern music that played Mutations that weekend. Local acts also peppered the line-up, standing strong beside the other acts on global tours.
The Old Market: Nature Channel/Chastity/Written in Waters/Chelsea Wolfe
Brighton’s own three piece garage outfit; Nature Channel, were the first of four to open up the three hour stretch of bands to perform in The Old Market. From start to finish, each song burst into the other with unyielding energy, the enjoyment was genuine between all band members as they yelled in FIDLAR-esque fashion at a listless crowd. Due to a lack of vibe-age from the audience, you could expect a floppy performance in return, but no, Nature Channel seemed to be feeding off this dead air and throwing it back up into the faces of the punters in the form of ferocious riffs, ruthless drumming and catchy chorus hooks.
“This is going to be our last gig in a while so thanks for having us.” said lead singer and guitarist, Tom Denney, as they broke into the last song of their set with loving force.
For fans of Epsilons, FIDLAR, Wavves and T.S.O.L. Check out Nature Channel’s latest release, ‘Nature Sounds’ on Bandcamp:
Chastity took the stage next. This band from Canada is fronted by Brandon Williams, who is defiantly a man with his band. Their sound moves like an angry, punk rock arrow into the bodies of a growingly enthused audience. The approach towards each song in their set was varied as they alternated between dark, discordant punk and dream-like shoe gaze. However, the overall intensity of the performance didn’t drop as just after the first song, Williams hurriedly lunged off the stage into where the audience where standing. It would have been an awkward stunt to pull if it wasn’t executed with conviction, but the in-your-face composure conveyed by the frontman and singer, matched this move exactly, he then paced while dosing lyrics for the rest of the set one foot in front of the audience.
Get Chastity’s latest release, ‘Tape’ from handdrawndracula.com or listen on Soundcloud:
Written in Waters was the penultimate act to perform. From Brighton, the five piece take inspiration from many genres and incorporate elements of prog, indie, jazz and trip-hop within their repertoire of colossal sound works. An ambiance is created immediately with delicate interplay between the band made up of subtle keys, ethereal guitar, solid bass and exquisitely measured drums. As front woman and vocalist; Beth Cannon, starts to sing, the entire sound is operatically accented, remindful of Anna Calvi’s vocal approach. She dances and sways to the cascading music and bellows unorthodoxly with perfect tone. Every song induced shivers as dynamics rose and fell effortlessly to create seamless falls of silence which is just as important as sound itself. It’s hard to specify what sound Written in Waters have, but that’s what makes them so exciting.
Keep up with Written in Waters via Facebook and watch their live video:
Headlining was Chelsea Wolfe, a singer-songwriter from California backed by her stern faced band in all black attire, ready to get their doom on. The air was thick with the sense of macabre during the entire set from Wolfe. The grim, industrial sounding instrumentation is built to a climactic point with Wolfe giving beautiful, melodic relief with her piercing voice, which weaves into the gloom heavy tapestry of gothic, electronic rock, neo-folk. The whole band stood, dimly lit and static during the length of the set, Wolfe’s hair draped like a veil over her face, with one clear, blue eye staring out upon the subdued crowd as she gently wailed confessional lyrics and lightly strummed her guitar under the wall of noise. The atmosphere was heavy; it felt like you were stranded in a room full of people. However, even if doom isn’t your thing, you need to appreciate Wolfe’s ability to craft and control a sound that amplifies the stillness in the air, and how her voice melodically cuts and creates incredible through the walls of dissonance created by her band, or, just enjoy where the music takes you.
For everything Chelsea Wolfe related, go to www.chelseawolfe.net
The Hope & Ruin: Dan Friel/Naytronix
New Yorker; Dan Friel, is a founding member of the experimental lo-fi, industrial psych band, Parts and Labour. For about a year now, Friel has been playing solo shows armed with not much more than a $50 Yamaha keyboard, bass overdrive, pitch shifter and a loop pedal. He creates sonic soundscapes consisting of video game-like melodies, fuzzed-the-fuck-out key loops and glitchy, lo-fi drum tracks. A steady mess of noise permeates the entire set as Friel bobs his head to constantly developing, analogue structures. The gritty, machine-like texture was constant throughout the performance and it was sometimes hard to tell where once song started and where the other began. The minimalist, DIY setup would seem as though it would be limiting for a musician such as Friel. To explore further within his capabilities, it would be exciting to see how much more auditory feats he could conquer with even just another pedal added to his arsenal.
If you like artists such as Holy Fuck, Dan Deacon or Guardian Alien, you’ll love Dan Friel.
Get all current news and recordings of Dan Friel at www.danfriel.com
Naytronix is also another band member turned electronic solo artist. Nate Brenner from California was the bassist for indie-pop, lo-fi, afrobeat rockers Tune-Yards. From 2012, Brenner has been creating indie infused, electro-funk under the name ‘Naytronixs’. With a soft voice, mellow bass, a looping keyboard and drum machine setup, Naytronix alternated between building simple riffs of analogue melody and laying down smooth bass runs that interplay with his voice to give a vibrant and polyphonic texture. The stage was lightless apart from a projector that shone black and white television noise onto the one man band, creating a visual experience to compliment the cool, robotic music.
Listen to Naytronix if you’re a fan of Gorillaz, Atoms for Peace or Beck.
Check out all Naytronix’s work and gig dates on www.naytronix.com
The Haunt: OM
OM are a psych-stoner, doom driven three piece from San Francisco. The band is put together with the sounds of lethargic yet relentless, metal-esque drums, thickly fuzzed, trance inducing bass, an only droning synth and Tibetan chant styled vocals that sits neatly upon the slow doom in unison, telling you tales of lurid, transcendental puffery. OM’s thick n’heavy riffs dragged through the air and into the heads of the mainly older crowd; a crowd made up of once young metallers that now have to hold their breath while head banging so as to avoid the possibility of their back giving out. However, OM are the winners so far in having the biggest turnout during the Mutations festival, also, they’ve rubbed elbows with Steve Albini as he recorded their last album, ‘God is Good’.
If you like bands like Sleep, Sunn O))) or Electric Wizard, you may like OM.
To get their latest album and earlier releases, go to www.omvibratory.com
Concorde 2: Black Listers/Lightning Bolt
“Blacklisters are the real. Fucking. Deal.”, “Certainly a fan of this band” and, “…every man and his dog loves them.” You didn’t hear it from here first; everyone is currently raining praises upon Blacklisters. This noise punk foursome from Leeds deals pure, uncut attitude through their sound. With loud, twisty delivery served to you by a solid unit comprising of bass, drums and guitar wail, crash and chug together brilliantly, while frontman and vocalist; Billy, possesses the stage presence of a bear as he parades and flails his arms rhythmically to the noise. Blacklisters play to a shared pulse that seems like it will never stop. There is constant communication between the band and also a feeling of happiness within the music as there is comedy in their movement, lyrics and media portrayal. This is a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and that’s why they’re so damn cool.
For fans of Pissed Jeans, Girl Band and The Jesus Lizard.
Get all your Blacklisters needs at www.blacklisters.co.uk
Massive explosions of whirlwind drumming and fuzzed, melodic turbulence came from the stacked wall of speakers on stage as Lightning Bolt created an avalanche of overwhelming, experimental noise rock. From Rhode Island, Brian Chippendale and Brian Wilson have been performing as Lightning Bolt for just under twenty years. During this time they have honed and sharpened not only their sound, but their message – that there is no message. Chippendale wears a technicoloured, clownish mask that only show his eyes that switch from locking on the crowd or to Gibson on his right, to signify closes. The intensity of the ferocious noise evoked a tribal fury within the audience. The mosh was thick with beer and sweat and occasionally an audience member would dive from the front barrier to surf the sea of temporary maniacs. Before the penultimate song was played, a fight broke out in the crowd.
“Hey! Is he the bad guy?” pointed Chippendale into the horde as cheers loudened. “We can put him in the corner, put these two in the corner”.
Chippendale then pointed out a route for the two trouble makers that led them up onto the stage, right beside his drums. By star-striking the two, he settled their anger and to show further kindness, he gave them water.
It was an incredible, free falling and thunderous set from Lightning Bolt, that ended with the joined effort of Chippendale and the two fans onstage, all playing the one drum kit together, showing real humility, love for fans and to give a climactic finish.
For fans of Black Pus, Melt-Banana and Pink & Brown
Get all you could ever want from Lightning Bolt at this website near you, www.laserbeast.com
Words by Milo Dunn-Clarke