After an explosively voluminous showing, Getintothis’ David Hall peels himself off of Studio 2’s rear wall to report on Ulrika Spacek’s Liverpool bow.
The London-based experimentalists Ulrika Spacek commendably welcomed onstage two upcoming Merseyside bands as support in FUSS and Shrinking Minds; visiting bands, take note.
First up were indie-psych-janglists FUSS, who beguiled us with a hookish and confidently-dispatched set. Call their music what you will (dream pop? Maybe. Drone? Definitely plenty of that), FUSS were loud with just a hint of Telecaster jangle and hypnotic as it gets. Their droning vocals are fantastically effective, a Scouse bray in which all the vowels meld viscously gushing over their delicious noise.
The synth player was an interesting centrepiece onstage, hunched permanently over his gear, squiggling, tapping and dragging spacey sounds out of a laptop through an iPad. This made a great noise, but FUSS may wish to rethink the setup from an aesthetic point of view in future; it looked to many early attendees at Studio 2 like he was tapping away at a dissertation or playing a particularly engrossing session of Minecraft.
In terms of FUSS’s sound, some parts overlay each other, to the point that synth and guitar or both guitars are playing the same thing at the same time, which could do with tweaking. A little more craft and finesse will put this right easily however, and Getintothis are excited as FUSS‘s bright prospects.
A more simplistic, righteous sound was served up next by the breakout young Liverpool band Shrinking Minds, a scuzzy power trio playing fuzzed-up garage rock in a Deap Vally/Royal Blood/early Black Keys form. Switching from a four to a three-piece seems to have galvanised them into delivering full throttle stuff, and it seemed their singer/guitarist wouldn’t be satisfied until he used every setting on every pedal at his feet, which was no bad thing by our reckoning.
Shrinking Minds will only grow more accomplished as they develop. Currently they show lapses in their power trio execution, instruments dipping in and out, not every space filled as effectively as it could be. A more developed sense of when to show restraint and when to go for the jugular will come to the band with time, and then see them reaching higher and higher.
After a brief turnaround a cosmic noise ensued, with Ulrika Spacek launching into a hypnotic and blazingly loud set. Accompanied by flickering visuals bathing the band in a permanent snowstorm of projected light and with barely a look or a word at the crowd, they set about a packed Studio 2 with their three-guitar attack.
There were plenty of shoegaze, krautrock and noise influences noticeable in the Spacek maelstrom, all grated coarsely through a post rock filter. Pulsing, throbbing motorik basslines and strident, incessant drumming droned their songs hypnotically onwards in classic krautrock form.
Vocals were buried under a sonic avalanche, and the sweetness of Strawberry Glue or She’s A Cult was turned burnt and bitter by the brilliantly suffocating and dark arrangements they were subjected to. Ulrika’s jangly, atonal moments recalled Evol-era Sonic Youth, the more blistering passages took on a My Bloody Valentine-esque slab of sound. But most often comparisons could be drawn to turn-of-the-century post rock stalwarts like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky.
All possible comparisons failed to describe the Ulrika Spacek live show, the band defiantly setting an experimental template all of their own. Whereas post rock is more obsessed with the push and pull, the build-up and release of tension, Ulrika Spacek created a mood and hammered it out into a seamless groove.
There were fewer quiet-loud dynamics as there were embracing textures which shear into or spark off one another; less twinkly minimalist guitar lines ascending into crescendos as there were riffs writhing and squirming under the flaying heat of distortion.
The Parr Street crowd formed itself into a standoffish semi circle before the stage due to the sheer noise, but there was a palpable sense that most present were finding a new favourite band in Ulrika Spacek. The ransacked state of the merch table at the show’s conclusion suggests plenty of The Album Paranoia vinyl will be quaking Merseyside walls throughout the next few weeks.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam.