Zorch and B L A C K I E at Good Records, 8/1/13: Review
B L A C K I E, with Zorch's Shmu dancing up front.
B L A C K I E | Zorch Good Records August 1, 2013
"Giant surprise/we are lizards disguised/and we're controlling your lives/with trilateral spies."
It would almost come as no surprise if Zorch were indeed our alien overlords, as they catchily reveal at the end of new track "Zut Alors!" This several-minute (it's not really possible to time a Zorch song, for some reason) blitz of electronic arpeggios, bloops, and broken time signatures is the perfect vehicle for revealing Zorch's otherworldly nature, because it's so very Zorch. It's not an experimental song so much as a normal song by an experimental band. However, I've seen them a couple of times now, and I'm not convinced it's experimental so much as ridiculous ideas played perfectly with serious chops. If they are indeed human, it would be as much of a surprise as if they were the lizard overlords so feared by tinfoil wearing bearded men everywhere. Their music is so far away from the norm as to be veering into keyboard and drum insanity, somewhere between thrashing off-kilter rock music and experimental dance.
See also: -Bosnian Rainbows and Zorch at Trees: Review
Look, when something's as good and as weird as this, there's no point categorizing it. We all love to have a shot at it when something comes in from left-field, but just let it go, yeah? It's much more fun to say things like "Zorch are like what would happen if an alien who was some sort of drum virtuoso had a psychedelic trip through space while being pursued by a furious, malfunctioning Casio keyboard." Far too many words for a genre, but far more descriptive than saying "off-beat quirky space rock" as some people might. Be a bit creative. Zorch certainly are.
Talking of things that defy categorization, opener B L A C K I E (all caps, with spaces) is like staring down the barrel of a furious gun being pointed at you by a man revving the loudest motorbike you've ever heard. He starts with no warning whatsoever at an absolutely fucking deafening volume that makes me jump so far in the air that Zorch keyboard player/cat-wielder/tambourine-hitter/lizard-proclaimer Zac takes pity on me and throws me some earplugs from across the room, which I gratefully accept before utterly fluffing the return throw, leaving the jar of earplugs ensconced in roughly the "K" section of the thorough vinyl selection in Good Records. Now respecting me less as a man, Zac turns back to see B L A C K I E, a man wearing only Tobias Funke-style cut-offs, several impressive tattoos and the words "YOUTH SUICIDE" written in red across his chest, wrap a mic cable around his neck and shout incomprehensible words that he totally means right into the very soul of the microphone.
Here's the deal with B L A C K I E. He's got some really fucking big speakers. He shouts loads. He's really into it. The backing track, which is totally not the point most of the time, is often just a single drumbeat, perhaps a little bit of dissonant guitar, often some feedback. Basically, it's not hugely musical, like you and I might consider an ABBA track, for example, to be. It is, however, one of the most in-your-face things I have ever seen. It's often debated to tedium what the "spirit of punk" is, but if there is such a thing and it even remotely coheres to what my idea of it might be, it's alive and well in B L A C K I E, who, for his penultimate song, charges head-long down the record shop aisle to shout directly in someone's face, going hard enough to pull the microphone out of the PA. For his final song, of course, B L A C K I E just stands there, arms aloft, entirely silent in front of a wall of feedback so overwhelming that it might as well have been designed specifically to end your chances of hearing tomorrow.
Indeed, the DIY ethos governs this whole tour. It's free to get in, as every night of the tour has been. Zorch are giving away whiskey with all merch purchases (obviously) and selling randomly-assembled mixtapes for $3 each. They look like men who have spent the last week in a van, but are delighted with their lives. The whole setup is so goddamn endearing that it's a struggle not to be totally delighted.
It's not, as my esteemed editor standing beside me pointed out, the usual in-store performance either, as you'd expect bands playing in a record store to be. Everything stops, the lights go down, some sort of weird laser show combined with a psychedelic backdrop generated by a man frantically scratching at an iPad starts up, and Zorch, who have obviously been assembling all their own equipment, lasers, and PA, give a performance that's more an awesome gig that happened to be in a record store than an in-store promotion type thing. Zorch outgrow the record store from the second the lights go down, and the only real reminder that you're in a record store until the end of the gig is the fact that it seems like there are a lot of places to lean, but these places are actually where valuable records are sticking up, so you're out of luck.
It's an utterly impossible to comprehend tour-de-force. a confusing yet compelling assault of the senses, and another winner for local booker Parade of Flesh, whose association with Sargent House (one which has brought through Bosnian Rainbows and Zechs Marquise from the same label recently) continues to produce success after success. I urge you to go and see Zorch and B L A C K I E in Denton tonight. It won't be like the normal gigs you attend, even if those are $5 cover punk gigs at a dive bar. It'll be nothing like that. You won't soon forget it.