The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Dan Richards , October 7th, 2013 13:59

Dan Richards heads to the STEW venue in Norwich for a fine night of fine noise from BK & Dad. Photograph by Richard Shashamané

STEW is a box of a venue, a blank utilitarian shell; once a factory now a workshop, gallery and sometime venue sat squat beside the river opposite the soaring limestone shard of Norwich cathedral. Tonight, before the headline set, a crowd hug the walls or cluster round the bar whilst overhead a stream of dazzle camouflage beams onto the empty stage - like a Vorticist school disco. The atmosphere is charged, the room is tense, expectant. As Pip (drums) and Leo (Guitar and myriad pedals) walk through the crowd and take the stage applause blooms in their wake - building to a stamping steam hammer thump - the sound taken up and echoed in the burst of drum fire and feedback which kicks off their ecstatic set.

Up close in the jet-wash flesh, eye to eye and brains to mush in the precision looped, Thor hammer melee of their epic gigs, BK & Dad are elemental; elemental, vivid and deafening live like monsoons and meteors are elemental live... or GLACIERS.

Carried down from the mountains of North Wales some time last decade they made their way east and began exploring the peripheries of a honed, telepathically close-knit noise moraine. They list their influences as 'Electricity' and 'Rocks' and tonight the people in STEW are pummeled and pebble-dashed with high-speed grit; the focus of BK & Dad's passion for the sturm and drang of how far you can push the volume and musicianship of a two piece ear-bleed outfit until it shatters into Prog or sinters into Sludge.

Their sound is built on shifting tempos, tangential repetitions and sudden spikes in volume and shifts in focus. Equal parts Bauhaus, Part Chimp and Shellac - it's very hard to tell the sources they're drawing from.

Pip, for example, recently told me he'd been listing to "a lot of early Tricky" but this evening you'd swear he'd grown up atop Salisbury Plain, assailed by Lightning Bolt artillery, or spent time as shift riveter - up with the lark to a Led Zep alarm clock.

There's a story that Neil Young in the mid 70s, owning two barns and having time on his hands, loaded both to the rafters with guitar amps, wired them up left channel/right channel, turned everything up, hit a chord... and destroyed all his barns and amps.

BK & Dad sound like the Hell Boy spawn of that exercise - thrust into the world through the rip in reality Young's thrash-fuzz-barn-brouhaha wrought. 

Their musical exactitude certainly shows a lot of woodshedding goes on. Leo is master of his pedal board, timing and controlling his playing to loop, repeat and fill the space with a breathless guitarchestra to match Pip's belabor beat. Songs which start out as a clamorous sisters to 'When Big Joan Sets Up' take tectonic tangents, leaving the STEW crows alternately giddy and hypnotized.

At times there seem to be more than two people on the platform. At times the music seems palpable, tactile - an avalanche of percussive force - before graining out to calm interludes, like a truce, before fashioning another massif to smash.

In short, they're stupidly good live. You should see them while they're on tour this winter. Take earplugs. You'll leave them knackered with a daft crazed grin.

BK & Dad are playing in Derby on October 26th (venue tbc) & The Cube in Bristol November 30th