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Three Songs No Flash

By:Larm Live Special: We Hail Deathcrush & Frisk Frugt
Luke Turner , February 22nd, 2011 09:27

Back from By:Larm, John and Luke wish to inform you about the two finest Scandinavian gruppes we've heard in a long time: the fearsome Deathcrush, and the curious Mr Frisk Frugt. Pictures by Carina Musk Andersen

Deathcrush by John Doran

Last Train, Friday Night/International, Saturday Night Last year’s By:Larm was an astounding success for showcasing the still shocking and visceral power of the guitar and these British ears were cleansed by the righteous racket of Altaar, Manhattan Skyline and Shining, playing rock ranging from doom to punk to black-metal-jazz-industrial-and-who-knows-what. The only disappointment was in the small minority of bands who, instead of forging their own path, seemed to be looking to the UK/US blog consensus for a vision of cool. So there were a few bands who couldn’t have been more specific about their love for My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth if they had have taken the stage wearing Isn’t Anything and Daydream Nation T-shirts.

It is good then, to see that someone has taken this idea and blown it to smithereens; then taken the shards and built something temple like out of the pieces.

Deathcrush are one of the coolest bands I’ve ever seen. They know that the spirit of Sonic Youth is the thing worth preserving not slavish impersonations of Murray Street riffs. By summoning the spirit of Glenn Branca, No Wave, the punk feminism of Valerie Solanas, a cheeky engagement with hip hop and an aesthetic that raises trash culture to religion, they have created riot music for the 21st Century.

They are a three piece featuring Åse Bredeli Røyset on bass and vocals, Linn Nystadnes on guitar and vocals and Andreas Larssen on drums. All treat their instruments with disdain. Releasing early material on Fysisk Format they stand hand in hand with Arabrot as being the most exciting of Norway’s young (Necromantic) rock bands. Watching them tonight tear through ‘Lesson #1 (For Snoop Dogg)’ and ‘Lesson #1 (For Cliff Burton)’ it is instantly obvious why they have become the go to support act for such underground luminaries as Nisennmondai, such far out psych lords as Melt Banana and such lavishly praised newcomers as Sleigh Bells.

While being fully aware that I’m adding to an already burgeoning wave of hype, I have to qualify this with the simple statement: they really are that good. When you hear the Death Valley bass and the dampened, scraped strings that are reverbed to sound like bells. When you hear:“Your girlfriend’s really sweet and I like it hot. I’m gonna come around and take you out in my car.” When you hear those riffs... You know that people are not going to know what hit them.

On Saturday night packed into a bar half way up a tower block, the experience is even more intense. The crowd stand stock still, some staring goggle eyed in disbelief as Linn abandons her guitar to charge at random people, screaming in their faces. They deconstruct The Bangles’ ‘Eternal Flame’ into a clangorous no wave scree of noise, worthy of Teenage Jesus And The Jerks. Seriously, you won’t know what’s hit you.

Watch out South By South West. You are Tokyo. Deathcrush are Godzilla.

Frisk Frugt by Luke Turner

Frisk Frugt (in English, Fresh Fruit) seems to have an entire festival line-up chopped and mixed into his two astonishing sets at By:Larm. On Thursday night at the Kulturkirken Jakob, he ambles onstage wearing the kind of jacket you’d usually find sold by the side of the road by Native Americans in New Mexico. He carries a pot plant over to the church organ that’s been set up on the side of the stage, and places it on top. He stands back, admires and then adjusts it, before wandering over to the microphone. There’s a lengthy explanation of what he’s about to do, and then Frisk Frugt (known to the good woman of Denmark who bore him as Anders Lauge Meldgaarad) sits down behind the organ and, with his left hand, sends a deep drone resounding through the building.

His right picks out the higher notes quickly, resulting in something akin to a bagpipe skirl, or a call and response traditional as interpreted by the avant-garde. The drones builds as the church unfortunately empties, people seemingly perplexed by this sonorous racket so far removed from what we’ve all heard from Frugt’s recorded output. Come Friday night at Bla, though, and the riddle of what he was up to the night before is unraveled. For the same elements (the drones, the mischievous dance of the high notes) are present, but unpicked and expanded on. In part this happens because, as well as a fresh pot of flowers next to him, Frugt has a vast array of curious and gizmos helping him along. To his left, on a small table, a tiny motorized wheel flicks away at a miniature cymbal adding to the mantra that builds as Frugt blows on a tiny saxophone. It creates a sound that travels far beyond the Scandinavian borders, to Eastern lands and smoky jazz clubs of yore alike.

Since last night he’s acquired a human helper too, who crouches on the floor adding depth with shakers and bells. The next track sees that anonymous shape leap through dry ice and sit behind a drum kit, pounding out a tribal rhythm and, with human voice, continuing the call and response we heard the night before. Frugt picks up a globe that had just seemed like another stage prop – but no, it lights up from within, and he starts twisting a knob situated somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The resulting rumble feels like a recording of indigestion deep within the Earth’s core.

It’s quite startling being suddenly exposed to such an imaginative talent, even if the tie-die and microshorts of his publicity shots suggest an artist who’s all willful oddness and, quite literally, no trousers. Far from it: Frugt’s unselfconsciously genre-defying, gimmick free, and hugely enjoyable music brings to mind Deerhoof at their most concentrated, or Welsh sonic nomad Gruff Rhys. It’s to be hoped that in the audience at this industry festival are those who might be able to physically aid Frugt across the waters he already sails musically to the stages of, say, All Tomorrow’s Parties, where he so clearly belongs. You might not be shocked to know that he finishes with a surprise, abandoning the tricks and toys to sit, alone and unaccompanied, picking out the finest, most intricate guitar that perhaps hovers around bluegrass, but really, like Frugt himself, cannot be placed or contained. Fresh fruit, indeed.

Deathcrush play the Quietus JaJaJa night at the Lexington this Thursday, February 24th. Also on the bill are Arabrot and Kellermensch. You can buy tickets here