Futures Are Changing, But Their Futures Are Still Black

The following account is of factual events that took place on the 27th October 2016, between the hours of 7 and 10pm. No details of this account have ever been made public. Until now.

I’m early. I’m not often early for a lot of things. In fact, I’m so early I have to wander up and down the street and take refuge in one of the cheapest London pubs I’ve ever set inside, waiting for to validate my invitation. But a little after 8pm, a gentleman sporting the Black Futures insignia arrives outside Wandsworth Town station, I weave the password into my conversation with him and he presents me with a blindfold, and told to await transport to the secret location. Of what I know of Black Futures media, their imagery resembles some kind of VHS propaganda reel, but nothing that was to resemble the theatricality of what was about to happen.

Once enough attendees had gathered, the chauffeur asked us to enter the transport and put on our blindfolds. In the brief journey towards the venue, around about 5-10 minutes in length, there was music playing under the guise of Black Futures Radio; short instrumental MIDI renditions of songs, interspersed between stingers and amusing interjections from its monotonous host. I seem to remember the best one about ‘having a funny feeling in my nether regions,’ or something similar at least. Little were we to know at that time, that what was unconsciously infiltrating our ear drums was a mere taster of the sonic assault to come. While the radio provided some light relief and entertainment, it didn’t stop the feeling of foreboding, being driven around on London streets, in a vehicle full of strangers, to a location you knew nothing about.

At the location, I just about made the shadow of gates opening before the path, and driving down to what looked like an abandoned film set of sorts. Outside, flanked by personnel in hazmat suits taking photographs of every attendee, heavies in suits instructed us to place our phones in envelopes or we would be refused entry. Happy to oblige, I did so without first telling my other half that I wouldn’t be able to be contacted for an unspecified amount of time. You can imagine how that went, especially after telling her the last thing that happened was that I was just given a blindfold. Anyway, we were directed left into a room, filled with more hazmat personnel and two giant dispensers filled with ‘social lubricants’. The drinks could only be dispensed by ringing a bell, or honking a horn, dependent on which you wanted. The folk in the suits and googles remained silent throughout, pulling glasses from underneath which they kindly filled and only once pouring half a litre of gin, to top up the more popular of the two dispensers. Yikes. The room itself had little in the way of furnishings with two sofas, in a room filled about thirty odd people, but was filled with very curious paintings, photographs and instruments around. It seemed elaborate, like a lot of thought had been put into the decoration of this venue, deliberately like some kind of scientific experiment and we were the test subjects.

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After a period of time for guests to mingle with one another, the room opposite in the hallway is unlocked, and we are welcomed inside a studio, outputting a frequency that feels like its properties could brainwash onlookers if exposed to in the right circumstances. Maybe that was the idea. But beyond the mixing desk and monitors, lay drums, microphones, a keyboard and a guitar, and a curious wall in the background which had a screen display inside what resembled a large sewage pipe opening. The door is then closed, the frequency is shut off and with the onlookers and myself all making ourselves as comfortable as possible, the producers known only to the world as SPACE and VIBES slowly emerge from the darkness and start the show.

With their first song, distorted, crunchy guitar opening up proceedings and thunderous booms of bass, before erupting into an apocalyptic big-beat bombshell that would bring a tear to Liam Howlett’s eye. The scathing refrain of ‘ten minutes to the end of the world,’ is unnervingly relevant, given the earth-shattering size of the music that surrounds it, and the visual element of strobe lighting in the performance really enforced the urgency and magnitude of their two-pronged attack. After three and a half minutes of electrifying energy, the storm subsides and you could be mistaken for thinking for more of the same is on the way. But this is where things begin to change, instead revealing a whole new dimension of influences that made for a truly mesmerising listen. Straight into now brand new single Karma Ya Dig!?, waves of reverb and delay wash over both sets of vocals and synths, unveiling a strangely soothing psychedelic ambience that certainly caught me by surprise. These two gentlemen’s vocals also harmonise so well together, that the phrase ‘I’ll see you on the other side,’ has lingered ever-presently in my subconscious since this day. A pseudo-industrial stomp gets us underway with a near punk-like sneer taking vocal duties, marching us towards a titanic guitar riff that wouldn’t go amiss in Britpop’s heyday and an overall vibe that feels reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers, albeit slowed to a pace you can headbang to. It certainly affirms that the big beat era of dance music circa 1990 onwards, has had a profound effect on this material. As if today’s electronic music producers and a punk band recorded together in a garage. It’s gritty, intense and energetic but without sounding lo-fi or unpolished. Astronomically far from it.

I must admit, that while their eight song set was nothing short of inspiring, it moved in a blur. I recall one track that had a dancehall style beat, some later present indie rock style influences and one track that which reminded me firmly of Does It Offend You, Yeah?, which in their own whirlwind of genre-smashing, is nothing but a compliment. They are an absolute sum of the parts of the people that work as the unit. SPACE, an in-demand punk and hardcore producer, with a reputation in the desert rock community to boot, and VIBES, a multi-talented instrumentalist and electronic music producer, that works with an abundance of live acts in and around London. Their union has formed something undeniably unique, and witnessing the translation of their chemistry together in the flesh with such a striking and impactful live performance, and the interactivity before the performance even took place, has made me fall in love with these gentlemen and get overexcited over what was to come. It truly was a privilege to be invited along and be part of this undoubtedly intriguing and involving movement.

The opportunity to see it for yourselves, lies on the 5th October at Bloc in Hackney, 8:30pm start. Prepare for an immersive dance experience unlike any you’ve ever encountered. If you want a further testimonial, I left that night with new friends, whom I realised I shared a closer connection to, than just being attendees to this exclusive performance. And I’m often a painfully awkward individual. If that isn’t something that asserts the power or the spiritual significance of the Black Futures experience, then I don’t know what will.

Join the Existential Expedition Club right here:

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bIg toBacCo CoMpaNY – Ripples

It’s that time once more ladies and gentlemen. A time for giving and sharing between one and all. What’s that? Christmas? Heavens no. You’ll have to wait the same as everyone else til the end of the month. No, I’m referring to another instalment of the gifts given to the internet from your friendly bIg toBacCo coMpaNY. The name is purely for show though, if this is your first encounter with this quirky but ultimately hard-slamming five-piece from Cincinnati. They won’t be distributing cigarettes to your doorstep in this century. Instead what they have chosen to peddle, and especially in their third release from their up-coming debut album, is a re-imagined version of Ripples, once wandering the world on an earlier EP. From previous cuts, we’ve seen glimpses of nu-metal juggernauts System of A Down and Slipknot, the incredible versatility of vocal style switches and even some mellower, contemplative passages, to diversify their impressive musical prowess from straight out decimation. Ripples expands upon that melodic personality seen in last track D.B. recalling further Eastern flavours once curated by System Of A Down in Spiders and Aerials respectively. Although surely not an intentional homage, the comparison is meant in nothing but flattery. The fretwork seems a little quicker than System however, but still captures that wonderful intoxicating essence from the melodies woven together. Peace soon dissipates, the powerful instrumental engine, as come to expect from these gentlemen, launching out of the haze like an ambush predator and begins pursuit of any startled onlookers. The full crushing might of the band is in full effect, yet for the first time thus far, guided by mostly clean vocals. The contrast works though. While you can feel throat muscles strained in the concentrated projection of vocals, the organised chaos fortifying it not only adds an urgency to the words spoken, but makes them feel far more legitimate. The subject matter certainly seems more philosophical, more spiritual than we’ve seen before, with the chorus echoing that sentiment. Numerous voices unite in incantation with the hammer-shots of the drums’ kick pedal easing off, while still allowing the guitars to reduce structures to rubble behind it all. It only sits as another alternative form of attack in their steadily growing arsenal. Some triumphant growls do escape from their imposed restraints, warmly welcomed into the atmosphere and all without them being abrasive in the slightest. One last moment near the song’s climax does introduce one last surprise. Very much in a hardcore vein, the band pulls out the equivalent of a handcannon and with each strum of the guitar, unloads slug after slug with no aim but complete carnage to the surrounding area. My apologies if this analogy seems a little topical, insensitive even, but bIg toBacCo coMpaNY’s tremendous firepower can be hard to quantify when total destruction in all shapes and sizes is what these guys do best. Though we continue to learn more of the increasing depth to their musicality, melodies and lyrics, fine-tuning and balancing this with their already established, bone-crunching barrages is becoming more of a mouth-watering prospect upon each release. Christmas hasn’t come early, but you can bet on these guys making an excellent stocking filler for jaded metal fans.

bIg toBacCo coMpaNY’s album has yet to be titled or have an official release date, but they are slowly releasing track by track every song from that album. This blog will be covering each release as part of a collaboration between myself and the band, so for an in-depth look and news on the development of the music of bIg toBacCo coMpaNY, The Soundshark is your go-to guy. If you haven’t already done so, check out the pieces on D.B. and Doom Shroom¬†to get the full picture so far.

Go let your love flow in their direction:

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And if you have any love left in the tank at all, maybe you could give the remainder to me? You’re more than welcome to keep it of course:

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P.S. Womp womp womp womp.

 

bIg toBacCo CoMpaNY – D.B.

If this name looks familiar to you already, then that may be because I have written about these fine gentlemen recently in an article¬†published generally covering what they do and what you can expect from them. That said, my musings on them sounding like a movie monster orgy, with an attitude reflective of a mischievous schoolchild may have to take a slight run back. Things are getting a little serious. Not too serious, but serious enough to warrant a statement of intent. Their debut album IS in existence, currently being pieced together as we speak and this is the second song to be taken from it, kindly extended to me as a form of informal partnership between myself and the band. They make the music, I write about it essentially. But whilst intentions are more serious, that’s not the only thing that sounds more serious here. D.B., abbreviated for Dick But showcases a more melodic side of the band we’ve yet to hear from what material of theirs floats around the internet. The beginning starts out kind of recalling the mellower, Middle Eastern-infused System Of A Down moments, the first guitar initially igniting a ominous spark, right before the harmony between the two guitars and chugging of bass almost ushers a sombre shadow over proceedings. The sound is far more emotionally attentive, but you can feel that it can only build-up to something bigger. A guitar whispers ‘Time’s up,’ with its last breath and the heavy artillery explodes in your eardrums. Piercing screams and some incredibly brutal growls fight for vocal control while what can only be described as the musical equivalent of being crushed into dust by the pyramids of Egypt bears down on what remains of your nerves. It’s savage, but utterly enjoyable. Then an impressive clean third voice emerges from the ruins, impressive so for writhing free from the previous throat torture, as if in prayer for mercy from the onslaught. Obviously denied. The quiet-loud dynamic is vicious, going from concentrated barbaric bursts of metal, to slightly more touching, contemplative melodies with a hint of deviance at its heart. The sum of both parts makes for a terrific ride nonetheless. Playing out with those melodies does make for a very satisfying conclusion too, ending an eventful four minutes. This band continues to impress me I must say, a maturation of the music previous to their release perhaps, but without compromising on their experimental piledriver of a metal monster. A new song release every month looks to be a calendar date worth saving right now.

Album releases don’t get by without money unfortunately, so these gentlemen need your love and support to make its inception as big as it possibly can be by backing their Kickstarter campaign. In return, you’ll get access to all the songs as soon as they’re available, and you can be credited on the album as making it happen cap’n. That certainly would give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. So what are you waiting for?

If you haven’t already, go tell them if I’m right or not:

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And if you would like to tell me if I’m right or not, or whatever:

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