Australians Tangled Thoughts of Leaving released with No Tether one of my favourite albums of 2018, therefore I had to go and see them on their European tour. Ljubljana, Slovenia, was the closest show to where I live, so that’s where I went. The fact that they were playing with Brazilians Labirinto made the show even more alluring, because a Brazilian band is not something you see every day on a European stage.
The show took place at Channel Zero, a small club that is part of Ljubljana’s Metelkova complex. Metelkova used to be a military headquarter, but today, after being squatted when Yugoslavia fell apart, it is an autonomous cultural centre with numerous clubs and cafes. Should you ever find yourself in Ljubljana, Metelkova is the place to go to meet like-minded people or see a show. Channel Zero holds 100 to 150 people comfortably, 200 would be pushing it.
We arrived at the announced time to find the club empty. For half an hour we thought that this would be a “We-thank-Bobby-for-coming-out-to-the-show” situation, but slowly people started showing up. It appears that people just go out late in Ljubljana. When we got to Metelkova, around nine o’clock in the evening, the place was deserted, but when we left the club, around one o’clock at night, the complex was teeming with people.
Since organizers and bands were waiting for people to show up, the show started much later than announced. When Tangled Thoughts of Leaving finally climbed on stage there were maybe thirty people in the audience and the number grew to around 50 in the course of the evening.
Tangled Thoughts of Leaving play post rock with a strong experimental streak and that is precisely what makes them interesting. While most bands of the genre appear to be treading water, they are making progress. Apart from the strong experimental streak their music is characterized by Ron Pollard’s piano playing and, at least on the last album, the inclusion of all kinds of nature sounds from their native Australia.
Prior to the show, I had been wondering what it would be like to watch them perform live. While the contemplative, slow and jazzy parts of their music are trippy to listen to lying down in bed, they might be boring to watch. But the band were aware of that themselves, and although the show did contain slower parts, featuring more spherical and introspective sounds, most of the time the audience was entertained with an explosive experimental mixture between jazz, noise and post rock, which was terrific to watch.
The show started with Binary Collaps, my favourite track from No Tether. It was a good way to start and certainly got the audience’s attention. Interestingly, while the track was recognizable in the beginning, it seemed to get a bit out of hand towards the end and sounded different than I remembered it. It was not just a live vs. recorded difference, but like they were playing a different piece of music. This probably means that improvisation is an important part of the band’s approach, that their compositions are fluid and subject to change.
The band’s last piece for the night, Yield To Dispair, started with some kind of bubbling sounds and bird song, or at least that’s what it sounded like to me. It culminated in crazy, seemingly uncontrolled noise. This was just to my taste, and judging from the applause and the cheers, the rest of the audience was similarly thrilled.
After the first band followed quite a lengthy pause. The stage was completely dismantled and then set up again. Once Labirinto got on stage, it became clear why it took them so long to set up their equipment. They had to fit six people and all of their instruments into the comparatively small space. They play with three guitarists and there is an additional percussionist besides the drummer. One of the guitarists also doubles as synth/effects guy.
As soon as Labirinto started playing you could hear that their music is literally a world apart from what Tangled Thoughts of Leaving play – so don’t listen to people who tell you that post metal/rock bands all sound the same. Although both bands are labelled as post rock, Labirinto have a stronger metal and tribal influence, whereas Tangled Thoughts of Leaving have a more experimental and jazzier note.
The comparison that stuck with me from the beginning to the end of Labirinto’s show is Sepultura. That might have been the case because the band are from Brazil. It’s where my mind went first. But it was definitely also because of the music’s tribal character. I instantly thought of Ratamahatta.
Somewhere in the middle of the show two of the guitarists took to drumming as well which cemented the impression I had. While the band’s music also contains some psychedelic bits, the sound always goes back to an overall metal sound. Towards the end of the show there was also some spoken word included in the otherwise instrumental music, but since I’m not fluent in Portuguese, I did not understand a word of what was being said.
All in all, I had a very good time. One factor that especially warmed me to both bands is that they have women on drums, and that’s not something you come across very often. Excellent. You were awesome, sisters. The guys weren’t that bad either.
(Review and Photos Slavica)