Godspeed these red 'n' black emperors...
They look like the Satanic [a]Hives[/a], in their black shirts, black trousers and dark red ties. Like the Howlin’ Pelle, [a]Icarus Line[/a]’s singer Joe Cardamone writhes around the stage like a wasp fried by a powerful light bulb, now winding his microphone around his arm like an addict’s rubber tubing, now throwing it up in the air like a missile.
But Joe never, ever catches it. That would be against the principles of [a]Icarus Line[/a]. They have no ‘moves’ – unless you count guitarist Aaron North flinging himself at the wall, or his attempts at a headstand on the PA. Or guitarist Alvin DeGuzman’s use of his guitar strings as dental floss. No, no moves here. [a]Icarus Line[/a] have nothing to offer but their disorder.
It’s quite a gift. This dedication to chaos stretches to [a]Icarus Line[/a]’s songs, too. They’ve done away with boring things like verses, choruses, melodies, structure. It’s saying something that their most tuneful songs tonight – the terrific finale ‘Love Is Happiness’, an earlier ‘You Make Me Nervous’ – sound like The Jesus Lizard in a blizzard, all lurching bass and inchoate yelling.
At least there’s bits that, like, [I]repeat[/I] in those songs. New tracks like ‘Kiss Like Lizards’ come affected by attention deficit disorder. Not so much a song as a howl of feedback, followed by a knot of bass torsion, followed by a quiet malevolent bit, followed by 57 different varieties of churning, ‘Kiss’ out-does anything by And You Will Know Us By Our Lack Of Tunes for heady art-punk meandering. Now and again, these wild pitches into left-field teeter close to prog. It’s a leaning not helped by [a]Icarus Line[/a] ‘s red eye makeup,
which melts down the their faces so that by mid-set, they look like rare African tree mammals taken by surprise.
And yet [a]Icarus Line[/a]are magnificent. It’s rare to get this far on attitude and dissonance – even [a]And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead[/a] have songs you can hum. They have further to go still: under the wild hair, singer Joe looks like a pissed off Julian Casablancas. And within their tag team of detuned refuseniks, there burns a soul and purpose (hate everybody, destroy everything) that’s sorely lacking in today’s careerist underground. Godspeed these red ‘n’ black emperors.