Bugbrand is a man called Tom, an enigmatic Bristol resident who spends a lot of time mucking about with circuit boards and soldering irons to make boxes and machines that make a massive array of weird analogue bleeps and bloops. His former incarnation as Knowledge Of Bugs was a highly enjoyable noise act, creating a pleasing ambience that pulsed and phased through a variety of soundscapes, but also stepped outside of the nerd-crouched-in-front-of-laptop live setting schtick by actually showing you how those sounds you were hearing were being created in real-time, be it contact mikes on slinkys, e-bows on guitars, laptops played through toy megaphones, and so on. Bugbrand on the other hand seems to be a step away from this involving approach, with Tom utilising a single box with tons of sockets, connecting wires in an ever-increasing tangle and twiddling knobs in a manner that ultimately distanced the audience through the incomprehensible nature of the performance. Ultimately, the monotone bleepsand cycled drones (together with sporadic guitar that was soon dropped) didn’t contain enough light, shade or structure, seemingly appearing random and accidental rather than part of any great plan.
Aethenor is a supergroup worthy of the term. As much as I’d like to hate Stephen O’Malley, you can’t deny he’s in some cracking bands, and maybe the issue I really have is how much certain fanboys fawn over every single fart he produces. With SOMA on guitar, you also have the keyboard player from Guapo, a geezer from excellent Swiss experimental rockers Shora on noise, and, best of all, the drummer from Ulver, so there are certainly no slouches here. Having only recently got into Ulver, especially the later stuff, I was extremely pleased to see that the latter’s skills were exemplary, very jazzy and intuitive, providing an absolute base for what seemed to be a largely improvised bout of pleasing ambience, soon building to stoned freakouts. Usually this stuff really sinks or swims live, but for some reason, on a school night in the intimate surroundings with forty or so other people, it worked. It was nice, loose and exploratory, and clearly made by a bunch of proficient like-minded souls in tune with one another.