Shining & Caligula’s Horse @ Sound Control
There’s something of a storm cloud looming in my head as I submerge myself below ground level into Sound Control’s airy basement. I grab a brain-freezingly cold can of Red Stripe (oh the class) and in time to witness the final throngs of Jack Dalton’s hardcore pummelling die out. All staunch rhythms caked in simplistic yet catchy lead chordal work, while their performance is tight, I struggle to really place my finger on where these boys are taking their music. Named after a character from Patty and Selma’s favourite TV show, MacGyver, the Oslo outfit are just a little too middle of the road considering the overtly ambitious and progressive bands that are to follow. Tainted too by that storm cloud in my head, I feel there are more appropriate settings where they could flourish, tonight just isn’t one of them sadly.
Injecting grace, charisma and charm instantaneously, mainly through their delightful frontman, Jim Grey, Brisbane’s Caligula’s Horse bring the sunshine of their homeland to dissipate my darkened skyline and raise my spirits. With the strong flavourings of Karnivool, Opeth and Haken characterising their modern prog rock banquet, there’s an alluring lightness to these guys. Firelight, which begins sombrely and mournfully soon elevates to a beautiful and uplifting crescendo that has the room swaying and smiling. Dedicated to all those recently departed from this world, in Paris, much closer to home and elsewhere, what really compels me about Caligula’s Horse is there authenticity and integrity. Sure, the musicianship is pristine, both guitarists making full use of the extended range of their 7 strings, Grey’s vocals sound proud and soar above a muscular rhythm section, but it’s the sum of all those parts and their collective chemistry and bubbling magic that has been falling in love with them. They have a real soulfulness.
The jittering grooves of Daughter of The Mountain produce another highlight with Zac Greensill’s smooth, melodious lead work the crowning feature. A band to keep your eye out for, especially considering how confidently Jim Grey conducts the audience.
Where the Aussie’s were gracious and almost angelic, Shining are very much the antithesis; dark, satanic and bat shit crazy. Together however, their diversity makes for a fantastic ying and yang aesthetic. Having seen Shining numerous times now, tonight they are another level.
With cuts from their latest opus, International Blackjazz Society in tow, a record which encapsulated the wham-bam-thank-you-mam focus of One One One and possesses it with BlackJazz’s encapsulating darkness, this is the sound of their Blackjazz mantra really taking shape. Unleashing songs from all three of those releases with a feral energy and gilt-edged execution that is both musically fucked up and mind boggling and unrelentingly fun, the evening flies by.
I Won’t Forget rattles the eardrums with grating guitars while iced with frantic sax. Fisheye is contorted and flecked with the poisonous refrain of “1, 3, 7, 5,” which, when bellowed by Jørgen Munkeby, fills the room brilliantly.
Even if The Last Day nicks the line “all night long I dream of the day” from the Foo Fighters, it exemplifies just how well-rounded a release International Blackjazz Society is. How it can be both barmy and uniquely off the wall while still pertaining a succinct and hook laden punch is majorly impressive. House of Control is slick and veneering, fizzing like a stick of dynamite. With an explosion inevitably impending, they built to it perfectly – this one of the songs finest songs to date.
The band continues to develop and before our very eyes we are witnessing a beast evolve. They will always be a polarising band – I mean, demonic black metal mixed with scyzophrenic jazz isn’t anyone’s cup of tea – but with every live show and every album they produce their case is much more convincing.
Words: Phil Weller