Not for profit listing for experimental music improvisation, contemporary composition, sound art, electroacoustic and DIY music in Manchester

Fat Out Fest 2014

Photo by Robin Hill

FatOut racked up a staggering line up of artists and musicians for this 3-day bender at Islington Mill. And what an incredible 3 days it was!


Setting up shop in the cavernous club space Minimal Bougé beguiled the audience with their romantically detached poetry. Adopting a distinctive sound that lies clattering beside early Portico Quartet, they would at times stray into French-infused motoriks calling back to the lighter ethno studies of CAN. Taking the kraut motorik to its extremes, Nisennenmondai let up on their blitz of no-wave ‘pop’ songs and zero in on a more minimal sound that crescendos without climax, ad nauseam. Machinic rhythms persevered unchangingly over 14 minutes, alongside bare bass grooves and a paranoid ambience shot through with monomanic guitar lines. After a good ol’ romp to Drunk In Hell, Charles Hayward, acclaimed drummer of This Heat, took to the stage with his entourage of Gnodheads following a weeklong residency at the Mill. With a leitmotiv of krautrock, the 7-piece outfit launched into a raucous improvisation of gnarled riffs, offset rhythms and squealing saxophonic psychedelia.


Riling us up for the second day of the festival, full-body, Lycra-clad Barberos ravaged the stage like serpentine tricksters, coupling drum-fuelled thrashings with disjunct keyboard riffs. The tireless outbursts were broken up by derisive, vocal freakouts skittering between helium-garbled clanging and demonic tirades. Meanwhile on the 5th floor, the Video Jam stage was under way with a series of live collaborations between filmmakers and musicians. The apex of the performances came early on with 2 Koi Karp’s live scoring of Wolfgang Lehmann’s psychosurreal ‘Dragonflies with birds and snake’. The trance-inducing rapidity of strobic images depicted close ups of… dragonflies with birds and snake spliced together into a lysergic montage (you can watch a 5 minute trailer of the full hour-long endurance on Vimeo, recommended!). 2 Koi Karp churned out a jolting repetition of strangulated circuitry and treated wildlife recordings that were only too well suited.

Over in the Opal Tapes room DJ Ford Foster spit out deranged techno jakk trax backed by an interlude of lo-fi noise. From his recent split on Opal Tapes his set came across as far more confrontational, hailing great vehemence, bouts of low-frequency assaults and violent, distorted vocal loops turned virulent melodic phrases. Leading in a similar vein, Run Dust obliterated the main stage, laying down a battery of unbridled techno. Luke Calzonetti’s tough, stringent measures and mercilessly distorted kicks certainly stand up to the analogue mutilations of early Regis or Opal Tapes’ MCMXCI. For more menacing sounds check out Run Dust’s latest collaborative release “Carps Vol. 1’ on Tesla Tapes.

Donning the upstairs space, AHRKH KOHM and Sam Weaver delivered a mesmerising audio-visual installation centered round the mysterious disappearance of a 1960s Soviet cosmonaut carried off into the nihility of space – “fucking mint”. Sam Weaver’s modularware set the sound of signal transmissions, whilst AHRKH’s funereal drones conveyed the visceral desperation and surrender of a man irretrievably lost. The immensity of sound was accentuated by KOHM’s cataclysmic visuals detailing the profundity of the immeasurable universe. Also with a recent tape out on the Tesla imprint, AHRKH’s ‘Punarbhava’ is a real introspective treat. Few memories remain of Japanese hardcore duo Melt Banana, but the bruises stand to reason it was good fun.


Afternoon delights jar us out of our fragile stupor with the immersive wall-of-noise duo Nadja. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, their claustrophobic soundscapes doused the listener, extinguished the mind and redefined the body through the contours of bass. Taking the already stifled skeleton of a My Bloody Valentine track, the duo drowned each hit in a pit of tar; a decay of cymbals surfacing for their last breathe.

Later that evening we saw Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides collaborate with Tombed Visions label-head David McClean and Naked(On Drugs) frontman Sebastian Perrin. The never-before-seen collective led us through an improvisation of receding drones and soft airing saxophones, sweeping us up in a fanciful current of flute feedback and meditative gong work. With great prudence the performance broke out into expulsive free jazz and evocative sampling, steadily settling back into a dreamy languor of Mulatu-styled twinings. Back in the main room Michael O’Neill delivered a socially charged polemic of indignation at the structures that be. Following the release of his equally riled up Tesla Tapes editions, he stirs up a brooding party atmosphere backed by the electro post-punk productions of Mill resident Chris Haslam aka Dwellings.

For the final live performance William Bennett, better know for his controversial power electronics project Whitehouse, strides forth wielding an opus of Vodou rhythms drawn from the archaic traditions of Haiti. Stripped-back into obscurity, the onslaught of midi-sequenced polyrhythms and grating electronic noise make for a subversive ritual that compels the body to move under duress. Launching into all-out techno inversions, the power of Bennett’s doundouns strike with the ruthless tenor of a gabber kickdrum.

Total exhaustion. Fat Out proper.

Fat Out return to the Mill on July 10th for a night of electrifying psych with Guardian Angel, Horrid and The Osiris Club.