March 1, 1999
London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage
in sweaty reverie, lost in their relentless, coiling rhythms. Their itchy switches between beguiling softer passages and explosive, corrugated hardcore may bring to mind [a]Slint[/a] et al, but the
Call it what you want; post-rock seems woefully unrepresentative now. As the recent Foundry Records compilation 'Will Our Children Thank Us' (for which this gig is the launch party) proves, many of today's more experimental bands share little more than their own restless, investigatory spirits.
Live, The Wisdom Of Harry do not satisfy. On record, their vacu-formed phunk, their airless, coffee-table smoothness and suffocating urbanity take on a menacing air. Onstage, the mask falls and shatters on the ground, and all that's left are the men themselves, recreating the sounds: harsh, dissonant beats, stultifying keyboard washes, limp funk. The rest is lost to the ether.
Billy Mahonie, by comparison, are on fire tonight, flailing and swooping in sweaty reverie, lost in their relentless, coiling rhythms. Their itchy switches between beguiling softer passages and explosive, corrugated hardcore may bring to mind Slint et al, but the truth is Billy Mahonie have comprehensively left these early inspirations in the dust.
The fluid interplay between the musicians recalls Television's 'Little Johnny Jewel', the bracing, sibilant live breakbeats echo the barest drum'n'bass, while the murky, squalling, expansionist funk of 'Are We Rolling' recalls the angular apex of 'Bitches Brew'-era Miles Davis.
"They play the music running through my head," murmurs one stunned punter, afterwards. You forgot the heart, body and soul, mate.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday