Thursday, 9 July 2009

Trampoline Live: Meursault, Wounded Knee, The Foundling wheel

The Wee Red’s crimson-lit hovel makes for a disturbingly lewd gig setting. Yet, rather disappointingly, there’s nae ladies of the night flaunting their goods in here, nor is there any sign of the slavering kerb-crawlers who hanker after their stock in trade. Nope, tonight, in this boozy rouge Edinburgh venue, any experimentation comes from the stage and the pleasure on offer is aural, not oral.

First to the floor is one man noise-monger The Foundling Wheel - aka Ted Koterwas - and his effects board-induced rancour. Spewing out pulsing digi-rhythms with the frequency of a bulimic teen, Koterwas’s tumultuous arrangements slingshot from the PA into unprepared eardrums. Brutal is barely the word, as these sounds are absolutely pummelling.

For the non-initiated, such relentless waves of bass-fed electro can seem directionless and rabid, but underneath the thrashing ‘Noises Like Ashes’ and ‘Out To See’ lies a melodic honeycomb that appeases any serrated aches. Tauter and leaner than previous outings, The Foundling Wheel’s enthralling throb climaxes with the apoplectic ‘Mixed Minds and Missteps’; an H-bomb of machine-driven chime that coins searing racket against sun-kissed refrain.

Emerging from this violent shrill is a cappella virtuoso Wounded Knee. Bereft of instrument but abundant with anti-BNP sentiment, Drew Wright’s looping feral chant has ears pinned and eyelids peeled. Cross-fading between Deep South creoles and shamanic scats, Wright’s ability to elicit boom from the merest slither of tongue is incomprehensible to those of us who use our predominant mouth muscle to chatter and smooch.

Simply put, there’s nothing like Wounded Knee on the Scottish scene right now and, as if to rubberstamp the curious spectacle of 70-plus indie kids mesmerised by a jigging be-robed figure, Wright wraps up his act with a shuddering rendition of traditional Scots psalm ‘Benlogie’. So thunderous is the ensuing applause it begs the question: Who the hell needs instruments anyway?

Almost immediately, an answer comes in the shape of main draw Meursault (pictured). Already established local dignitaries, the folk-stained quartet are beginning to waggle pens further afield. Tonight they show why. The pastoral swoop of ukulele and banjo that bleeds from tracks like ‘The Furnace’ and ‘Nothing Broke’ is underpinned by Neil Pennycook’s bellowing strains. No longer the reticent shadow of yore, the beanie-adorning frontman’s wilting frame now commands the stage; his strident intone streaming into vacant pores with a gusto that borders on bullish.

Seemingly eager to vacate last year’s debut LP ‘Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues’, the group’s newer numbers lean more towards MacBook trickery than organic simplicity. Off-kilter wonks like ‘Crank Resolutions’ conjure up obligatory Animal Collective parallels and such exploratory dalliances are certainly a destination that will be broached further in future. But for now these cuts are works in progress; promising concepts that need airing outside Auld Reekie’s back-patting coves.

Tellingly, it’s the stripped down crow of ‘William Henry Miller’ that steals the show. Banjo-clad and without mic, Pennycook’s unfiltered wail drills through a wall of handclaps and harmonies. It’s a hair-quivering moment that underlines just how far this Edinburgh ensemble has come. The red lamps may have burned bright this evening, but based on this showing its Meursault’s lights that will soon be turning green.

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