Inertia/Black Light Ascension/Scant Regard

O2 Bar Academy, Islington, London – 21 July 2012

"Inertia are sustaining a creative high"

[Live photo]

Scant Regard (aka Will Crewdson) [Photo: left] was a late replacement on tonight's bill after Neurotic Mass Movement had to pull out with little more than 48 hours to go. No problem for Will, who despite headlining a gig on the other side of London the same night, stepped up to the plate admirably to kick off the proceedings. No problem for me either, as a consequence of the change in billing, the revised line up was even more attractive than before.

There aren't many acts around like Scant Regard – either musically or presentationally. So, to the uninitiated (of which there were probably a fair few), his entirely instrumental, one-man and his guitar (and a few boxes of gadgets), tornado delivery of his unique spaghettilectro sound possibly confounds as many as it converts. Most of tonight's tracks can be found on the debut album Burnt Pop Cycles - yet to be reviewed as I type this - but well worth wrapping your ears around if you can't decide if there's more rock n roll, electronica or spaghetti western soundtrack in you.

Scant Regard setlist: Crunchy Church, Peachy Keen, Demonade, The Model, Eden Machine, Crickets, Rip Crackaway, Harpenoid

Having only seen Black Light Ascension [Photo: right] once before, a year ago, then loving their dark debut ashes (which was one of our recommended purchases from 2011), I was keen to hear them again in a live setting. Engine of the band, Andrew Trail, posted some comments on Facebook a while back to the effect that he was becoming a bit disillusioned and was thinking of chucking in the towel. Thankfully, it seems that was just one of those temporary moments we all face from time to time, as at recent gigs they had aired at least one new song – meaning the creative juices at least are still flowing.

[Live photo]

Previous live renditions of new song Teeth are viewable online. I'm not sure if it is yet fully-formed or if it is still a work in progress, as the version they performed tonight was somewhat different to those earlier outings. It's actually quite a development over the general sound of their memorable debut ashes, but whether or not it signals a deliberately engineered changed in sound, or if it is more a natural evolution, isn't clear. Gotta say, on first hearing, it was distinctive from the rest of the set (which I generally regard as a positive – rather than they re-do their existing sound) but I wasn't sure it was a step forward in the direction I would have wanted to hear. Anyhow, that was just a five minute tangent in a set featuring some remarkable compositions (Ocean and The Dream being personal favourites).

A distinguishing feature of BLA's style is that not only are they intellectual but physically invigorating too; and that dualism is recreated live. Consequently, their performances are not only a hankering after that moody studio sound, but for that added dynamic that comes from the best live musicianship; and they deliver on both fronts. They are a quality act.

Black Light Ascension setlist: Ocean, In The Garden, Teeth, Blinding Colour, Jack In/Burn Out, The Dream

[Live photo]

Inertia [Photo: left] have been the most travelled UK industrial act of late. Anyone who follows their Facebook page or is friends of core members Reza Udhin or Alexys Becerra is likely to have been impressed if not dizzy with the amount of global travelling for gigs they've done in recent months. (Reza also plays keyboards for Killing Joke which certainly helps rack up the air miles.) Not that flitting here, there and everywhere has hampered their productivity, as work on their next album is well under way, with those in attendance this evening getting a couple of sneaky peeks.

Tonight's set revolved heavily around several songs from their most recent album Deworlded - which was fine by me as I thought it was their best yet. Deworld, which kicks off that album, was the ideal opener, demonstrating all the heavy things Inertia do best but with that slightly more approachable demeanour that characterises their latest sound. Streaming was the first preview of their next long-player. I liked it – a natural extension of some of the more measured BPM material on Deworlded. From the rest of their set Anticulture continues to stand out live for me acting as a great advert for last year's album. The other new song was Alive, a fine mid-tempo composition with a sing along chorus. Inertia have (wisely) chosen this as their forthcoming single, out in October on Metropolis Records. They also sneaked in a guilty pleasure Falco cover in Monarchy Now with Alexys taking on the vocals. 

Hardcore fans may have felt disappointed with such a brief set but the band were restricted to just 40 minutes as doors to the Feeling Gloomy club that followed opened at 10:30. The combination of their recent track record, and the two new songs, is evidence that Inertia are sustaining a creative high right now. The signs for that next album bode very well indeed.  8/10

Inertia setlist: Deworld, Streaming, Monarchy Now, Feline Fantasy, Anticulture, Alive, Gone, Repeat & Follow

Rob Dyer

Live footage on the YouTube channel