They are a pop band
The fourth Lines of Flight show was the last event of the Fringe Festival. The avant-garde hate it when you’re early, so I arrived during Pumice’s set, which was tinkly and disjointed, then paid vague attention to Rosy Parlane’s laptop soundscapes, while engaged in the more urgent task of getting high enough to deal with my first live Futurians show.
There were a lot of people at Chicks who had never heard of the Futurians. That’s standard for a band which hardly ever plays, and testifies to their reputation. Weirder, however, was the sense that a lot of the audience had never heard a Futurians’ song either – strange, given that the band seems to record everything they ever do. So when CJA dropped that first shell-scraping slice of pure guitar noise on the crowd, a wave of shock shuddered through the audience, who suddenly wondered what the fuck they were in for.
The Futurians have four members. There’s a guitar, two keyboards and some drums. Sometimes the girl sings, though it’s more like chanting, really. There are no verses. There’s no chorus. And it’s hard to say what the music actually sounds like. I caught moments of dirty, hard-edged future funk, some primitive Boney-M-style voyaging, a kind of torn-down semi-punk skiffle that turned keyboards into arpeggiated tom-toms and – surrounding it all – shifting walls of jagged, anti-pop noise. It sounded like a banshee funeral for Brian Wilson’s cyborg clone; a voodoo dance party in the Black Mesa waiting room; he sound of gay robots disco dancing and crushing everything underfoot.
Yet, for all that, the Futurians are some kind of pop band. Submerged snatches of Top 40 hits reared up every few minutes, almost like punchlines. Listening to them, I kept thinking of Lady Gaga and how her music is basically a commentary on the crapness of pop music, but strikes a far deeper chord than the stuff it lampoons, and inevitably paves the way for the next round of shite. The Futurians are in no danger of real success. Their records are too weird, too demented, too shit for the casual listener. But the performance is another story.
They stalked around inside the noise they made, swooning from fused bubblegum riffs into über-mongy covers of “Night Flight to Venus” as if it were the most natural thing in the world. There was nothing missing from the music; it had eaten everything, chewed it down to a paste, then smeared it back over the room. All with heads down, masks on, ear-plugs nowhere in sight.
There can only be a little music around like this at any given time, or else it becomes what is happening, rather than what might be. Someone said it was like a soundtrack to the times. I felt a bit like an extra in a fairly realistic, now-ish sci-fi film.
Then the film stopped and everyone went home.