Anglesey Eisteddfod

ll Sergeant[/B] and members of [a]Topper[/a] and [a]Melys[/a]. Tonight we count a mere 24 people, but the stage is such a blur of bodies it's difficult to be exact...

It’s Sunday night, and you join us in a huge tent on Anglesey. Tonight, a supergroup including some of Wales’ most obstinate musical mavericks are making their live debut, several hundred miles outside London. It’s another giant ‘up yours’ to the music industry. Before we get to them, though – here’s a man dressed as a Viking.

That’s former [a]Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci[/a] guitarist John Lawrence launching his solo project, [a]Infinity Chimps[/a]. Perched behind a bank of samplers, he constructs a haphazard collage of sounds until, just as you think your brain might fry trying to make sense of it, everything mutates into a cohesive entity.

There’s a disjointed acid-dub thread running through the set, and the whole thing comes across like a good-natured Aphex Twin. Given the logic behind the name (that given infinite time and a typewriter, a chimp will reproduce the works of Shakespeare), Lawrence might eventually create a proper tune. But really, logic doesn’t come into it.

But that’s nothing compared to The Serpents. Recent debut album ‘You Have Just Been Poisoned’ boasts 34 musicians, including Gruff Rhys from the Super Furries, Bunnyman Will Sergeant and members of Topper and Melys. Tonight we count a mere 24 people, but the stage is such a blur of bodies it’s difficult to be exact. Somewhere in there, though, are seven guitarists, four synth prodders (including Lawrence again), a trumpeter and someone ‘playing’ a mortar and pestle. Chaos? Incredibly not.

Initially, there’s no reason to it all, just an uneasy barrage of noise, but as everyone gradually finds their place in the scheme of things it evolves into a titanic soundclash, the like of which hasn’t been heard since John Cale battled it out with Lou Reed on ‘Sister Ray’.

Sometimes the improvisation is a dissonant mess, but then it somehow reaches an hypnotic crescendo: haunting female voices submerged under a welter of percussion, guitars and electronic noise; 24 egos striving for the greater good. In lesser hands, it would be hippy jazz-wank. Tonight it sounds like the rule book once again being ritually torched.

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