Andy Votel has been a long revered name for those addicted to the darker corners of record shops, those that lurk and hunch, searching for that one odd pressing of that obscure electronic-medieval-calypso-choir LP from 1979*. Many take solace in the fact that if such a relic is uncovered, someone such as Votel will take great pleasure in reissuing the said LP in order to share this once-lost strangeness with the world.
Andy Votel was visiting our shores recently, to perform at the Sydney Festival, to set up and new record label and to play a few shows in Melbourne. I only managed to catch his last gig, the presentation of Kleksploitation at Brunswick’ Howler. The support acts were all of the highest quality. Angel Eyes mesmerised and captivated with his moody synth drone. His sound quality was greatly improved since the last time I saw him play, and I suspect that the Howler have spent quite a bit on their fancy bandroom setup. Happily, the audience size slowly increased during Angel Eyes’ set, which is good because if he had played at the advertised time it would have been to about ten people. Anyway, I must remember to keep up with Angel Eyes as his performances seem to get better every time I see him.
The Night Terrors entertained us with their fascination with insects and bugs through their video projections while they played a solid set of old and newer tracks. It has been some time since I caught the Night Terrors, and they still tick all the boxes for great synth driven dance pop. The fuzzed out CS01 basslines weighted the music nicely while Miles Brown entranced with his virtuosic theremin playing. Again, the audience numbers were down, and one could imagine that experiencing the Terrors in a smaller room, packed with people would be the ideal environment for the pulsating rhythms delivered by the tight two piece.
For a night like this the DJ acts are equally as important as the live acts. Setting the scene was DJ combo Psychedelic Coven, who played a great selection of relevant tunes, from the spooky to the garagey and everything in between. Unfortunately there was nobody in the room to enjoy the music, and I can imagine that would have made the experience a bit awkward for them. James Pianta, of Votary, Roundtable, Dual Planet and the new collaboration with Votel – Monster Skies, took to the decks next and nicely filled the air with the right kind of vibrations that was desired before the upcoming experience.
Votel’ Kleksploitation was next, and surreal it was. Kleksploitation is as much a celebration of prolific Polish composer Andrzej Korzynski, as it is an absurdist journey kitsch retro-futurism. Commissioned by Unsound Festival in Krakow, Votel took a trilogy of Polish kids sci-fi films and turned them on their head, manipulating the visuals into a psychedelic montage of abstraction, stretching and hinting at narrative devices while grounding the entire work through the use of sound. Live, Votel massages and manipulates the turntable and effects alongside the prerecorded audio. This isn’ as much about his performance as it is about the scores created by Korzynski as explored by the mind and magic of Votel. The final product is an entertaining and surreal audio-visual meltdown that would stand up nicely alongside the best of psychedelic cinema.
While the entire evening was of the highest quality, one must be a little disappointed at the below average turnout. Word was that Votel’ Wednesday night show was similarly attended, and his previous night’s free DJ set at Section 8 may have been enough to satisfy the merely curious, who weren’ prepared to delve deeply into the world of Polish weirdness. Nonetheless the promoters must be commended for such an amazing night of sonic delights, coupled with the re-imagining of Pan Kleks. Everyone in the room would have walked away happy, yet possibly changed at the molecular level.