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Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review

Scorn | Holy Scum | The Ephemeron Loop | SDEM | Prangers | DJ Catalyst The Golden Cabinet, Shipley Saturday 1st October 2022 Andy Brown heads to the grand re-opening of The Golden Cabinet to watch Scorn and a host of other experimental acts. He shares his thoughts for Louder Than War. In those heady […]

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Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review Scorn | Holy Scum | The Ephemeron Loop | SDEM | Prangers | DJ Catalyst
The Golden Cabinet, Shipley
Saturday 1st October 2022

Andy Brown heads to the grand re-opening of The Golden Cabinet to watch Scorn and a host of other experimental acts. He shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.

In those heady pre-pandemic days, The Golden Cabinet was renowned for curating nights of experimental, underground music in the otherwise quiet market town of Shipley in West Yorkshire. The walls of The Kirkgate Centre were once vigorously shaken by everything from punishing techno and left-field hip-hop to improvised noise and drone. Each night felt like a substantial event with loud, strange and highly memorable performances. Strangely enough, it’s the only night where I routinely found myself dancing. Tonight, the doors of The Golden Cabinet will finally open once more. Scorn, the electronic solo project of ex-Napalm Death legend Mick Harris, will be rattling our ribcages later but there’s a whole cabinet full of musical curiosities to get stuck into first. One thing’s for certain, earplugs are most certainly advised.

Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review

DJ Catalyst plays a mix of drones and full-on bangers to get us in the mood before Rochdale’s Prangers cut the metaphorical ribbon. The Golden Cabinet is officially back in business. The three-piece play highly rhythmic industrial music built around looming electronic drones, found sounds and primal drums. Picking up a drumstick, one member hits gas canisters for that extra percussive oomph. A large, quite gothic-looking bell hangs from the drummer’s kit and adds to the metallic assault. There’s even what appears to be a small metal tombola drum. There are no guitars here or angst-ridden screams, just the perfect balance of noise and rhythm. Prangers take industrial music back to its roots. Through their cathartic clanging, the band channels the innovative spirit of acts like Test Dept. Those poor old gas canisters get the beating of a lifetime but everyone else has a blast.

Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review

SDEM comes next, an electronic artist with a penchant for floor-shaking sounds. Hidden under his hood, this seasoned mix maker gets down to the serious business of delivering some dark, disjointed electronics and squelchy, bass-heavy beats. The music vibrates through the room and the entire set feels like a full-body massage. There’s a murky drone that underpins everything, constantly threatening to pull us into some kind of electronic underworld. It’s so good to be stood inside The Golden Cabinet again, having noisy, experimental electronica funnelled into my grateful lugholes. The final few minutes are an exercise in eye-popping intensity. In a good way, of course.

Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review

The Ephemeron Loop is the genre-blurring project of one Vymethoxy Redspiders aka Miss VR. Stood behind a table of electronic kit and brandishing a guitar, Miss VR plunges the entire room into her distinctly psychedelicised world. An intense yet beautiful dreamscape unfolds as spacey synths and hypnotic guitar engulf the room. Just as I think I know where it’s going, we’re met with a wall of blast beats and anguished screams. A buzz of excitement shoots up my spine, this is going to be an interesting ride.

The entire set feels like one continuous piece that melts and morphs into something new when you least expect it. One minute we’re plunged into the heart of a sweaty 3 am rave and the next we’re knocked sideways with a slab of face-melting metal. All the while, Miss VR is utterly lost in every twist and turn. It’s hard to take everything in but I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen anything quite like The Ephemeron Loop. An extreme and intensely euphoric experience.

Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review

I hear what sounds like one of those tapes people listen to when they’re learning another language and look around and see a man walking around with a large speaker strapped to his back. Holy Scum are here to play with our fragile minds: any band featuring members of Action Beat and Gnod is bound to. Suddenly, the hum of amplifiers kicks in and the band lurches into life. The sound is thick, heavy and overwhelming. An electronic, siren-like drone pulses through the crowd courtesy of Gnod’s Paddy Shine. The bass and drums bludgeon our bodies as all kinds of chaos spills out into the room.

Seconds in and I’m face-to-face with guitarist Peter J Taylor as he makes the first of many trips into the crowd. People wearing enormous bear heads dance through the throng as the band’s masked vocalist Al Wilson paces around like a caged animal. I don’t know where to look as the show is happening all around us. At one point Taylor appears to abandon ship, only to return seconds later with champagne. Like some kind of rock ‘n’ roll rebirth, we’re soon sprayed with the bottle’s contents. Audience members end up with the microphone and the guitar as the improvisational frenzy gathers new members.

Bassist Chris Haslam and drummer Jon Perry anchor the madness with substantially meaty, noise-rock accompaniment. A lot of bands save this kind of stuff for their final song. Holy Scum, on the other hand, fuels their entire set with anarchic, unpredictable energy. By the end, the room is covered in confetti and champagne and the microphone is dangling from a beam above our heads. They came, they saw, they kicked arse. Holy moly, what a show!

Scorn: The Golden Cabinet, Shipley – live review

In a night of extremes, it only feels right that the first Golden Cabinet in years should end with a set from Mick Harris aka Scorn. Harris played the drums for Birmingham’s grindcore kings Napalm Death before creating Scorn in the early nineties. With this new project, Harris would explore everything from Swans-like noise and industrial hip-hop to dub and experimental electronica. This is all without mentioning Harris’ penchant for ambient music and jazz-inflected metal. After 7 years away, Scorn returned in 2019 and has been gleefully shaking the foundations ever since. Put simply, Harris and The Golden Cabinet are made for each other.

Sipping on a drink and dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, Harris couldn’t look more at home behind the sizable stack of dials, wires and electronic equipment. It’s from this mighty motherboard that Scorn serves up a wall of drone and weighty, dub-inflected bass. Harris excitedly twists the controls and manipulates the inevitable onslaught, like Doctor Who guiding the TARDIS through a particularly heavy meteor shower. It’s clear from every expression that he’s a man that truly loves what he does. Scorn is a hip-shaking, window-rattling force of nature. Just as we’re losing ourselves in the set, the power abruptly cuts out. Everything goes black and white as the projections and music disappear. A dejected Harris sits down as someone rushes to the fuse box. Surely, it can’t end like this?

With a cheer from the crowd, the projections flicker back to life and Scorn is ready for round two. I let off my solitary party popper in celebration (they were free upon entry), as the industrial dubstep machine bursts from the grave. The effect is physical, like being battered by a storm. Invigorating, bone-crushing noise for your body and soul. As grand re-openings go, you really couldn’t ask for a better night. In the words of one particularly vocal fan, fuckin’ proper!


Listen to Prangers, SDEM, The Ephemeron Loop and Holy Scum on Bandcamp.

Find Scorn/ Mick Harris on Bandcamp (his latest album here), Instagram and Twitter.

Find The Golden Cabinet on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photos by Maria Spadafora.

All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.


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