[caption id="attachment_17061" align="alignleft" width="259" caption="Divorce, Ultimate thrush, Trojan Horse : live review of free jazz punk bands"][/caption]
As I stand waiting for Glaswegian noise trio Ultimate Thrush to take the stage I become aware of an insistent pushing against the back of my ankle. I look down to register the not entirely expected sight of the band's singer lying on his back on a skateboard attempting to push his way through the crowd while playing clarinet at shin-height. This process takes longer than might have been expected (had it been expected in any way at all) due to some enthusiastic audience members taking the opportunity to push the clarinetist back towards the toilets before, undaunted, he eventually arrives at his destination, squarking and parping all the while.
United with his band mates at last, there then follows a proggish crescendo as a multi-pedal assisted guitar heaves up a wall of free jazz noise before the drummer kicks off a spasming eruption of noise. The clarinet now abandoned, the singer is free to lunge hither and thither screaming the lining off his lungs, occasionally jumping back on his skateboard and appearing the float mysteriously amid the crowd. By contrast opening band Trojan Horse seemed almost conventional, despite their scrunching together of various musical styles, mostly noisy, crowned with the keyboard player sauntering onto the dancefloor to demonstrate some commendably straight-faced dance moves.
Fellow Caledonian bill toppers Divorce boast a magnificent bass engine which powers the songs along like a dinghy on the crest of a tidal wave. Drums thunder and clank, guitar makes itself heard in intermittent shrieks, vocals of the scalded cat variety spill out of the small PA at ear-damaging volume. The singer has no skateboard but hurls herself heedlessly into the crowd at regular intervals regardless.
New single Horseheads conjures a sound akin to Godzilla arguing with a colossal car alarm (check out the video, featuring a human / chicken hybrid pecking itself to destruction), Cactusk slows things things down to brutalising noise slabs, and the entirety feels like having your ears sluiced with a jet-wash.
Older heads in the crowd will wistfully recall the likes of Dog-Faced Hermans and Stretchheads emerging from Scotland a few decades earlier with similar inventive and punishing musical agendas. Long may it continue.