Shhh! An Evening of (Not So) Silent Films – 22/02/2009 – The Arches

Published

Oisín Kealy

Before we are shown the student films which this evening is advertised around, each band involved are get to to express themselves through their own choice of stock footage. First to get this opportunity is Dolby Anol/Ben Butler and Mousepad, and they don’t ease us in. As they run in circles around the desk that holds their machinery, we are treated to a video of sado-masochistic Asian nuns beating each other with rose stems and whips — naked. Jarring electro provides a suitable soundtrack to the visual assault, all apocalyptic sci-fi synth and cyclical keyboard hooks. The messiness of the performance enhances it, spinning wildly out of control as the footage flits from nun snuff to a seventies roller disco.

A little more discipline is displayed next by Zoey Van Goey, who aid a Chaplin-like interval performer a farcical production, synchronising their instrumental attacks with his movements. They teasingly leave the stage after this short skit, and in their place are left sweaty metalmongers Holy Mountain, stirring up a very unholy racket to a redundantly obvious video of Apocalypse, Now (yeah I get it, war is hard, so is RAWK!). Their music goes nowhere slowly, but makes up for its narrowness with sheer volume. As they finish, I can hear a choir of ear nerves dying in harmony; they weren’t worth the slaughter.

Zoey Van Goey return to do a bit of aural damage control, setting their subtly absorbing melodies to a series of public information films which by turns warn against the dangers of heavy petting and educate as to the proper way to survive nuclear attack– duck and cover. The latter film is soundtracked, rather drolly, by ‘City is Exploding’. The initial effect is of absurdity, watching families throw themselves under picnic blankets while the reds advance, but as Kim Moore’s sweet vocals reach the plaintive chorus, it becomes utterly compelling. Despite the generally strong performances tonight, Van Goey are the only ones the strike a convincing balance between song and film, playing with rather than competing against their assisting medium.

A measured performance from My Latest Novel ends the live music portion of the evening, not quite as dynamic as the other acts, but neither is their music. It is all about slow building, multi-layered anthems, new song ‘Dragonhide’ typifying this as droning guitars progress to recieve support from violin, keyboard and vocal harmonies.

It isn’t the lightest way to end the evening, but a quintet of student made videos set to the songs of the bands soon dispense with the intensity .They are a mixed bag, running the gamut from raving mice to Hiltonesque sex tape, and other than the retro-arcade accompaniment for Ben Butler and Mousepad never really succeed in expressing the sentiment of their soundtrack.

A disappointment considering the aim of the evening, but rescued as it is by the live performances, no one complains that these have been tacked on as a coda.