Repo Man: Exchange, Bristol – live review | album launch

Repo Man

Repo Man | KonstruKt | Silent Front | Milon

Exchange, Bristol

13th August 2015

A disorienting document of wailing guitars, mentalist saxophone spouts and poetic lyricism delivered with enough aggression to give the Jesus Lizard a run for their money, new album Minesweeping sees Repo Man at their most unusual and frankly their best. They play host to an array of talent at Bristol’s Exchange in celebration of its release.

In more ways than one, Repo Man are the epitome of Bristol’s punk rock scene. Anger and passion permeate frontman Bojak’s delirious, unpredictable and nonsensical rants, set to a backdrop of guttural bass and achingly progressive melodies; a sound that’s not for the faint of heart. Stacked on top of a wonderfully eclectic mix of jazzy freaks and noisy treats, tonight is an evening of the weird and wonderful.

A Bristol-based quartet striking the perfect balance between groove-inducing rhythms and face-melting sonic outbursts, Milon are the perfect opening act. Saxophone, double bass, drums and guitar harmonise beautifully with one another before taking a violent turn, gradually descending into a darker beast entirely. The group handle this anarchic transition brilliantly, utilising repetition to such a hypnotic degree it feels like you’re the unwitting participant of a rollercoaster ride through the depths of hell. Powerful stuff.

Silent Front emit the ferocity of Fugazi and Shellac throughout their bass-driven ruckus. Ploughing through a set brimming with uneven, lightning-fast compositions, this is controlled chaos done right, and while their showcase can get a little exhausting at points, the pace is broken up nicely with an unexpected slow jam and some truly awe-inspiring riffs.

KonstruKt serve up something completely different. A Turkish free jazz quartet meshing together an impressive set of instruments (saxophone, synthesisers, percussion, woodwinds) into a thirty-minute noise-splosion, this is a numbingly loud, open-ended experience and certainly the least accessible act you’ll see tonight. Discernible bass melodies are buried deep beneath a dense wall of chaotic screams and percussion; it’s nigh-on impossible to keep track of exactly what’s going on, and really that’s the whole point. This is a performance to experience.

Finally, Repo Man take to the stage and waste no time kicking off proceedings. Free of the cringe-inducing stage banter and rock ‘n’ roll clichés that plague all too many acts these days, here is a band confident enough to let their music do the talking, firing off choice cuts from Minesweeping to comfortable fits of applause. The dementedly catchy ‘View the Overheads’ and ‘Bread & Breakfast Contortionist’ make for the best moments, bass and guitar clashing amidst Bojak’s eccentric foray into avant-garde poetics. This is experimentalism at its finest; a sound that refuses to conform to the predictable time signatures and song structures of today’s burgeoning punk rock scene while simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of asinine indulgence. Business as usual for Repo Man, then.

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You can find Repo Man here: repoman.tumblr.com. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter as @RepoManBand.

All words by Nick Canessa. More of Nick’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can find him on Twitter as @njcanessa.

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