A slightly bemused Norwich came down with a freaky fever as what can be described as an industrial forest, took hold of the Norwich Arts Centre. The music on menu was a taste of the radical avant-garde: done with a feral appetite. Truly not for the faint-hearted. Snapped Ankles combined trees with trippy soundscapes while looking like Star Wars’ Ewoks with neon green lasers shooting out of their eyes and ears. Their sound in three F’s was Fast. Furious. Freaky. An evening for lovers of all things freaky.
As I was already running late, I missed the start of the evening’s opening act. when I arrived, I already felt disjointed. The first act was a visual arts duo who required no use of the stage, but they didn’t need it. Adrena Adrena as they are known, show the true spirit of the avant-garde with their collaborative use of visual display and cutting-edge drumming provided by E-da Kazuhisa. The kit is a minimal one, composed of snare, toms, ride and crash cymbals, as well as an electronic pad. What followed as I entered the auditorium was nothing short of mesmerising.
I had launched myself into a soundscape that transcended anything that I had heard before. The duo has a great synchronicity about them, yet it is almost like they are playing a game with each other, the drummer being small tasks to keep up with the visual and oscillating movements of the visual art. The placement of the drum kit in front of the stage, facing away from the audience, signals that they want to keep this an open experience for the spectator to get immersed in.
The second of the support acts came in the form of Nuha Ruby Ra, a London based performer who appears without her band, I originally thought “Ok… Where’s the rest of them…” expecting them in the end to appear. They didn’t. If it wasn’t for this, I would rate her a lot higher. Again, the stage is not the priority for Nuha Ruby as she exclaims: “She’s not a fan of barriers” she weaves herself in an oscillating tide, swooping in your face then out. Unfortunately, it is not to everyone’s taste having a leftfield artist screeching in your face as I soon found out. Despite this, it was evident that she had a lot of energy that went to some use, and I couldn’t fault her courage in her performing without a band.
Then, a dense fog seeped from the stage and onto the crowd, it was time for snapped ankles, the London-based industrial quartet, were striking from the off. The band were here on the back of their second album, Stunning Luxury a record I would describe as “punks invading acid house with green lasers and electronics”.
The band certainly ooze an appeal that belongs in the strange gutter of life a band who certainly put the “Mental” into “experimental”. They draw their influences from Industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle through to Krautrock and NEU! To the afrobeat’s of Fela Kuti I am familiar with their work, but because of the raucous atmosphere, the ever fast beat of the drummer, the heavy dubbed synthesizers made it difficult to follow which song was being played, but this didn’t seem to worry me – being nearest the mosh pit was my only worry. In songs such as “Rechargeable” and the long-winded “Johnny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin” the crowd joined in a reckless harmony of mosh pits and shamanic dancing. It seemed that this mosh pit only ever grew larger and larger and chaos ensued along with this – bodies just buzzing like flies. The Ankles frontman dressed in a shamanic robe wanted a more direct interaction from the audience and so like both previous support acts, they turned to the crowd for a slice of intimacy. Carrying his microphone stand like a shaman carries a staff, he drew it up to each audience members face, begging for a yowl back. The crowd, like the band pack a certain punch, it definitely keeps alive the rebellious punk spirit, while at the same time, giving it a new lease of life.
Through dubbed electronics and freaky, unconventional costumes, Snapped Ankles have managed to expose a new musical narrative that channels a means for a manifesto in being the unconventional freak – a band that show a way to life through different means.