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LIVE REPORT: No Balls
Patrick Smith , July 25th, 2014 10:25

"A precipice of nonsensicalness": Patrick Smith heads down to The Grosvenor in London to witness the Swedish group's aversion to continuity.

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No Balls' music exists in a sort of liminal zone; floating between hyperbolically elongated/inflated Stooges-esque riffs and a sort of proto-Krautrock barbarism. Well, it did until the release of 2014's I'm So Happy I Can Die, a fantastically obscure dub-heavy curveball that felt like a perverse King Tubby off-cut. It was this latest release that provided the backbone for their set at The Grosvenor last week, for me it was one of 2014's performative highlights. For many, the formation of No Balls by former Brainbombs members Dan Råberg and Drajan Bryngelsson crystallised the pure carnal musicality of that prior project, whilst rejecting the infamously "abhorrent" lyrical content. I would mostly be inclined to agree; the suppression of almost all vocal elements meant No Balls had to allow their repetitive treble-pumped guitar work take centre stage. This grating guitar repetition has really become a solid vocal substitute.

The band never really starts or finishes songs tonight. Each number slowly trudges its way into existence, wavering for several minutes on a precipice of nonsensicalness, before collapsing back into arrhythmia. However, all this wonderful musical ham-fistedness is utterly intentional. No Balls lifelong aim seems to be to provide a suggestion of proto-punk musical frameworks before quickly poking all manner of holes in them, laughing away whilst all sense of genre, structure and meaning collapses. That's really the true joy of this band's evolution, they aren't too heavily invested in sticking to a tried and tested style; switching from dub to punk and back again is an intrinsic part of their deconstructive path.

Halfway through their set tonight, someone in the crowd cries out for "more bass." They're incorrect; the mix is perfect, guitars grating up top, rhythms floating around (far too lightly) at the back. No Balls are perhaps chiefly a band that thrive on a lack of coherence, a lack of sense, a love of failure. John Krumboltz, the co-author of the business bible Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, once said "if we could think of failing as a path towards success, then I think we would all be better off." Krumboltz, you should check out No Balls and you'll see that there's no progression; failure and success are one and the same.