We Saw This: Alberich

By Beverly Hames

Last week I went to see Alberich play at Saint Vitus with Natural Assembly, Åmes Sanglantes, Terrorism, and Cremation Lily. The show was noteworthy for three reasons. First, Alberich, the shining star of the Hospital Productions roster rarely plays so even though he is local it was a blessing to see him perform. Second, three bands were from out of the country with both Natural Assembly and Cremation Lily were making their US debuts. Third, Terrorism was filling in for related band Endless Humiliation which was described to me as cuckolding themed power electronics, however Terrorism was prefaced as “shit noise” and I was told it was going to be a mix of aggression and talcum powder it was.

UK based Cremation Lily was up first. The set was solid, not as harsh as I was expecting, but good. I ran into the classic problem of shooting noise shows, they are either physically over the top (you know the classic electronics man/hype man combo) or relatively static. Cremation was static physically but not sonically. My pictures sucked, they did not.

Terrorism was nearly the other end of the noise spectrum. Prerecorded tracks with an entirely vocals based live performance. It was shitty, but in a way that made sense. As soon as the set started I had to wade my way into the back room of Vitus against the tide of a mass exodus. Turns out homeboy had begun his set by smashing a florescent bulb in a room full of people. Perhaps they were scared by the potential mercury vapors poisoning, but having accidentally smashed one or two giant florescent bulbs in my retail career I am pretty sure the toxic innards don’t smell like baby power. Either way there was a giant mess of white powder on the floor.

Like any dutiful journalist I approached the front of the stage, camera in hand, flash on. The entire crowd stood against the wall hesitantly. I took a few pictures of Mr. Terrorism and his corpse paint smeared beard before he decided enough was enough and jumped off the stage to half-ass tackle/ram me and then started throwing a metal fan at around in the empty void where a crowd normally would be standing.

Here’s the thing. Yeah, I’m a girl and I get that it’s potentially more inflammatory to target me, but I’ve been to enough noise/power electronics shows to understand that if you’re up front you run the risk of getting hurt. The point is, I’d rather have someone either come at me with enough follow through to knock me on my ass or not come at me at all. It’s not like I want to get punched in the face, but I understand the rules of engagement and respect them.

Once the baby powder dissipated (powder electronics?) Åmes Sanglantes. the long-standing solo ambient industrial project from Canadian Pierre-Marc Tremblay of Akitsa and Contrepoison, took the stage. Like most solo projects the photos once again don’t do the music justice but the set was a pleasure.

One of the main events of the night was the UK dark synth act Natural Assembly in their first US show. What was once a solo project of Jesse Cannon the live incarnation is a two-piece and it was to the benefit of the crowd. Natural Assembly hasn’t played out much and it showed through some technical difficulties, but once they hit their stride they provided a subdued hypnotic and borderline danceable (swayable?) vibe that befits the inevitable Lust for Youth comparisons. But the Brits have their own thing going and it’s warmer and more poised than the icy and occasionally chaotic aggression of their Scandinavian sonic counterparts. A band like Vår is clearly inspired by pop, but translates it through the filters of hardcore and punk. Pop seems at the very soul of Natural Assembly and it requires no translation.

This show was the first time I’d ever seen Alberich aka Kris Lapke live. I’d heard praises sung for years but it took a live show to become a full convert. In a word, the set was transcendent. It blew away everything else I’d seen earlier in the night which is saying a lot because I would have left Saint Vitus entirely satisfied had the show ended at Natural Assembly.

The stoic pose, leather jacket, sunglasses, everything started off familiar, comforting. The musical performance was fitting for Lapke’s resume which includes a prolific tape catalog under the Alberich moniker and others and credits for mastering some of the recent industrial releases as well as a role as co-producer and musical contributor to Prurient’s masterful Bermuda Drain. I’ve never seen a crowd so attentive, so still. It was mesmerizing. I’m late to the Alberich-worship game, but I’m happy to add my name to the list of people who say he deserves for more attention than he gets.

Oh and then these dipshits showed up.

Seriously. I asked them to “look grim” for the camera. Jesus Christ. What fucking nerds.

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