A Loud Transcendence: PHARMAKON and SWANS live in Leipzig 2014 review

PHARMAKON and SWANS both playing live during the same night is a dream that was made reality last Thursday. You definitely can’t attend  such evening unprepared, as both bands are well known for their powerful and painfully loud performances—heavy duty earplugs are highly recommended!

 

PHARMAKON

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Picture Credit

When Margaret Chardiet made her entrance the whole audience went quiet: Here is this young lady with long blond hair completely dressed in black, on this huge stage initiating her performance behind a table full of effects gear, a looper and other equipment; such as a metal plate with contact microphones. She kicked off her set with a dark rhythmic loop, scalloping layer upon layer while scratching the plate in various ways and screaming at the top of her lungs straight into her microphone. From one minute to minute you are completely bewitched—confronted with a disturbing wall of harsh noises and beats comparable to early THROBBING GRISTLE, WHITEHOUSE or selected tracks of SWANS. After only 30 minutes, she promptly left the stage, which baffled most people, but despite this a plastered grin remained upon my face.

Click here to get a impression of what she is up to.

 

SWANS

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Picture by Jennifer Church

Thor Harris was the first one to appear on stage—playing a huge gong for the first 15 minutes straight. This created a very compelling and yet somehow relaxed atmosphere—the complete opposite of the warcry PHARMAKON assailed upon our ears earlier. When Phil Puelo joined him on the drums, as well as Cristoph Hahn on his unconventional lap steel guitar, the whole venue was primed to deeply penetrate the depths of a dark ambient soundscape. Impressive!

Michael Gira, and Norman Westberg on guitar – the only original members since the band has been formed in 1982 – and Christopher Pravdica on bass joined them with minimalistic repetitions and expanded them into exploding waves of guitars, drums,and  percussion accompanied by the ruminant voice of Gira. It may have been due to the loudness or late time, but the audience started to thin out.  Quite unfortunate for them, as SWANS then treated us to one of the most powerful closings of a show I have ever heard.

It has been a beyond pleasureful, perhaps even transcendent, to bear witness to the organic evolution of songs upon a stage—but this occurs only if you let go and let it happen. SWANS live is not only just “listening” to a band, it is also about recieving an overwhelming experience encompassing the entirety of the mind, body, and spirit..

 

Setlist

  • Frankie M
  • A Little God In My Hands
  • The Apostate
  • Just A Little Boy
  • Don’t Go
  • Bring the Sun / Black Hole Man
Total
29
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