Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Swn Presents Canton Crawl - April 28th 2012

Entire days of Swn served music are usually reserved for early Winter time when the eagerly awaited annual festival takes place, so I jumped at the chance of attending a Spring taster. Little did the organisers or attendees know this particular Spring afternoon would come with arctic gusts fit to freeze even the hardiest of krautrock fans. Soon (Swn?) after arriving at the new not-for-profit art space The Printhaus, I realised my error in dressing for summer, so an early survival dash back home for hypothermia preventing clothes was essential.

H. Hawkline, R. Seiliog, Tender Prey, Stacking Chairs, and No Thee No Ess were amongst the literally super cool line up, with Fist of the First Man a particular highlight for me. The trio are a new project by Cardiff electro king Zwolf. Using his alter ego, composer Tom Raybauld can usually be found wielding a laptop to create his sound, but on this day he appeared with old school instrument in hand. Along with two band members walls of technical guitar were created, which were intense yet engaging with reverberating psych edges. I couldn’t help be reminded of Right Hand Left Hand in terms of their vocal free, almost mechanical style, but there is something warmer about this threesome which doesn’t just leave you impressed by their playing skills but fully captivates. It was a tiny set of three tracks, but a big sound and a taster of an album with a lot more to offer, including layered electronica, scratchy dance beats, and vocals ranging from haunting to the bluesy funk variety. A listen on Soundcloud is recommended.

Next up came much hand warming around mini-bonfires and drinking of hot drinks and alcohol at the onsite bar. A discount arranged at the nearby Chapter Arts Centre also proved popular as people ran across for between-band-hand-defrosting before gathering expectantly in fur coats, scarves and bobble hats to wait for Cate Le Bon. The weather seemed a perfect accompaniment to the Camarthenshire born performer’s set. Her penetrating glacial vocals and mix of quirky experimental spooky folk suited the wintry people huddle which had formed. Le Bon’s feels like music for the night and the dark, particularly when considering the often death-focused lyrics. Tracks including the title song from latest release CYRK were played, along with (my personal) old favourites from the 2009 Me Oh My. A few technical hitches didn’t annul the atmosphere, and as the sun set a magical set by Le Bon and band created a perfect full stop to the great Cardiff line up.

Thankfully this festival experience, as with all Swn events to date, culminated in the comforts of sleep in my bed rather than a shivery tent. The lingering campfire aroma which had secured itself to my hair continued to remind me of a wonderful day for the remainder of that weekend.

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