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Concert review [2016-10-19]

On the evening on the 15th of November Winchester Art College( as part of their Minimalism: Location Aspect Moment event ) arranged a rare uk performance  of French wall- noise legend Vomir. Below you’ll find two reviews of the set- one from M[m] writer Roger Batty, and the other from respected UK waller Clive Henry.

There was a real feeling of eerier-ness as we approached The Rotunda at Winchester art college, where Vomir- French king of walled noise played his (un)live set on Saturday 15th of November. In the mid 1960’s the building was commissioned as the art school’s library,  but it hasn’t been used for this purpose for many years. The two levelled rounded glass & concrete building has be described as either a ‘concrete castle',  or ‘a modern medieval book-tower’, but tonight as we approached the building from the car park it felt rather creepy- with it’s minimal strip lighting it brought to my mind the late night deserted setting of a campus based slasher from the early 1980’s.  The Rotunda is connected to the one the main college buildings by a walk way. And slowly but surely the audience of around twenty people made their way into the upper level to be met by the solitary figure of Vomir, standing motionless & with his back to the audience. It took around five or so minutes for the audience to select their seats & settle, and though-out all this time the Frenchman remained still & turned away from the spectators.

All of a sudden the room was plunged into darkness, with only the minimal outside street lights giving a vague murky glow to the room. The couple of times I’ve seen Vomir before he handed out his infamous black plastic bags to all the audience members, along with a printed note explaining what to do with the bag- i.e. put it over ones head, if you so wish, but for this performance there was none of that interactions. He seemed completely disconnected & in a way that enhanced both the power & atmosphere of the ‘wall’ he offered up. He played for just twenty minutes, but it felt a lot longer- the ‘wall’ brought together a rolling/ droning low end, with a  topping of continual splintering texturing.  The low-end brought to mind a mixture of bleak yet distant road drone & crude earthy tunnelling. The splintering  top layer summon up images of the amassed sound of fracturing, snapping, breaking wood. Normally when one listens to Vomir’s work you get think of images such as urbane tube tunnels, or decrepit & rundown sewer piping/ sewers.  Or a  seemingly endless journey though a stark & unchanging desert scape, with continual white ‘n’ grey feasting static skies.  But for tonight there was a definite feeling of a either of ripping & shearing forest based Armageddon, or the stark workings of a remote logging company in mid winter to the French-mans dense & unchanging ‘wall’. 

The volume of the ‘wall’ was less than past performances, and in a way I think this helped deepen the feeling of pressing yet atmospheric sonic nihilism present within his     work. On the whole it was another worthy (non) performance from the Frenchman- and really there is still nothing quite like one of his performances, even with out the plastic bag element.
Review by Roger Batty

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‘Vomir, live in Winchester’ - four words I thought I’d never see… But rather than an elaborate joke on the part of a friend, these words turned out to be quite true; so, via the considerable door-opening powers of Roger @ Musique Machine, I did indeed finally get to meet and hear one of the gods of HNW. To do this, both Roger and I had to infiltrate a wine reception, full of very clever persons: we did stick out a bit. However, everyone we spoke to was very nice; though Paul Hegarty (author of Noise/Music: A History) did accurately segregate us as ‘the ">noise-men’…
The performance itself was in a striking little building called the Rotundra - a squat, circular construction, surrounded by a moat, and joined to the main building by an enclosed, first floor walkway. An impressive venue. Vomir was set up on one side of the inner circle of the room, with the spectators congregating opposite and around the edges of the circumference. In the middle of all this, a spiral staircase led down to the lower room. I’ve described the room in this detail, because it become an important element in the performance itself. The performance, as you might predict, was the usual non-performance: Vomir stood facing away from the audience, motionless in the darkened room. He played for around twenty minutes, a spitting wall of gravelly noise; static and unrelenting. What became interesting, was that the wall, or rather my perception of it, certainly changed during the set. I think the unusual nature of the room played a part in this. The inner circle of the room was marked out by white boards (I won’t pretend to know their purpose), which tilted on horizontal axes. These acted as barriers and bafflers for the sound. At the very beginning of the wall, with my eyes closed, I had the really distinct sense of being in a busy canteen. Noisy, overlapping conversations, scraping chairs, hubbub and bustle. As the wall progressed, these aural hallucinations changed, but none were as scarily precise as that first one. Later on, I could hear odd bass loops, strange tectonic lurches that rose up and disappeared. Tilting the head slightly changed the sound radically - though unfortunately the best listening position seemed to be an uncomfortable backward angle… The PA was, admittedly, two small monitor speakers - a potentially comic situation - but they really were very adequate, filling the room but not demanding earplugs. However, this meant that we missed out on the overwhelming volume of a more typical Vomir performance.
Afterwards, we chatted briefly with Romain (a charmer) and friends old/new, before travelling back in the Hampshire night. A surreal experience, all things told.
My thanks to Roger, and Romain, it was a pleasure.
The next five words I want to hear are ‘reformed Corrupted, live in Totton’.
Review By Clive Henry

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