By Simon Shoulders, Rock At Night London
Venue: The Black Heart…Golden Void and Dommengang-February 10, 2018
I’m not entirely sure where I first heard Golden Void, I suspect it was late at night on BBC Six Music but I can’t be sure… However I came to hear them, their eponymous debut album somehow found its way on to the wall of CD’s and made itself at home nestling comfortably with Goatsnake, Golden Teacher and Goldfrapp (musically speaking, life is nothing if not eclectic in our household!). I’m not sure what it was that made me pick this album up again towards the end of last year, but I’m very glad I did! Their music is a heady brew of hazy, melody-laden psychedelia, and powerful riffs with influences that tip a gentle nod to the mighty Sabbath whilst retaining a quintessentially west-coast feel to their sound. It’s always a complete joy to rediscover a “lost” album, but it really gets exciting when you hear that they’re playing near you…
We made it to the darkness that is the small venue above the Black Heart just in time to hear the end of the first support act, Glasgow-based Sloth Metropolis. I wish I’d got there a little sooner because a) I’d have taken some photos, and, b) Sloth Metropolis make a truly wonderful and very distinctive “psych-folk” sound driven by Calum Calderwood on electric fiddle, and very ably supported by luscious retro-electric organ sounds from the keys of Al Milton and the jazzy rhythms of Peter Fleming on bass guitar and Steve McNamara on drums. There’s something undeniably positive and catchy about Sloth Metropolis’ music and I get the feeling that the gathering crowd could have happily listened to much more! Check out their album (and sloth-themed rock opera!), “Origins” and you’ll hear what I mean…
Dommengang released their second album, “Love Jail” on Thrill Jockey at the end of January. The band have recently relocated to Los Angeles, and this first time the trio have all been together in one city. Perhaps there is something about that journey to Los Angeles, something of the ever-shifting horizon of the desert road trip that helped inspire “Love Jail”. Dommengang’s heavy-psych, electric-blues infused sound draws from a broad swath of American rock influences and each track has, like that ever-shifting horizon, quite a different feel from the next, whilst at the same time retaining a solidity and cohesion that makes for a very pleasurable listen. Live, there’s a real joy and freedom to Dommengang’s performance. Whilst there was some fantastic riffing from guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson and some wicked fuzz-laden grooves delivered by bassist Brian Markham, the highlight for me was the thunderous set from Adam Bulgasem on drums. This was a performance filled with an insistent and primal energy that not only significantly raised the temperature of the venue, but also got every head in the crowd nodding together and left the appreciative crowd calling for “More!” when the set eventually drew to its close.
Golden Void took to the stage in front of a crowd that was well and truly warmed up and raring to see the main act of the evening. In fact, it would have been fair to say that the Black Heart was fast becoming more than a little sweaty such was the impact of Dommengang’s performance! Golden Void’s set got off to what felt like quite a tense and hesitant start, perhaps not surprising given that the band’s usual drummer, Justin Pinkerton, wouldn’t be providing the beats and that Dommengang’s Adam Bulgasem had bravely stepped up to take on a second back-to-back set and that keyboardist and backing vocalist Camilla Saufley-Mitchell was suffering from a sore throat and had almost lost her voice. To me at least, it wasn’t until a few tracks in when front man Isaiah Mitchell called for “Art of Invading” that everything clicked. “Art of Invading” is a song that hits hard from the very first chord, and it was this percussive energy that seemed to make the Golden Void’s sound suddenly snap in to focus. Aaron Morgans gloriously smooth and rolling bass rhythms and Adam’s drumming began to resonate and formed the perfect foundation for Isaiah to release a series of towering, sculptural guitar solos that were filled out and given expansive form by the vintage sound of Camilla’s electric organ. With one track the whole shape of the set had shifted completely and become something really quite exceptional. “Astral Plane” left the audience drifting and intoxicated on irresistible, soaring rhythms and a beautiful rendition of “Atlantis” completely stopped me in my tracks leaving me (and a large part of the crowd) swaying to the music completely mesmerised. The chemistry on stage was obvious, especially between bassist Aaron and Adam on drums and it became clear that the band were enjoying the set as much as the crowd!
The last song of the night saw Sloth Metropolis’ electric fiddle player, Calum Calderwood, return to the stage to help Golden Void cover Neil Young’s “Powderfinger”. A fantastic performance from the band was accompanied by plenty of singing along from the crowd. The perfect way to round off a brilliant evening’s music!
Photo Gallery: Dommengang
Photo Gallery: Golden Void