ATTRITION @ Reproduktion 13 festival – 2013

It made a nice change seeing Attrition outside of the Goth circuit where they seem to get most of their live appearances in the UK. They’ve always been more experimental electronic than Goth, so not only did they sit well in the mix of sub-genres represented on the bill today, it was good to see them take the top slot. (Driving force Martin Bowes had worked with festival organiser John Costello for a short period back in the mid-90s on the Engram project, releasing one album, in 1996.) Overrunning sound checking had pushed back the advertised timings by about twenty minutes or so meaning Attrition took to the stage a bit later than planned. Martin Bowes was joined this evening by TyLean (operatic voice) and John Bambury (synths).

They chose to perform just three songs from the new (21st!) album The Unraveller of Angels. Opening with Karma Mechanic, followed by the single Narcissist and, later in the set, One Horse Rider – my first immediate favourite of the new album material. Style wise The Unraveller of Angels sees Attrition in full-on electronic mode with a smattering of fast percussion and drum and bass beats alongside an otherwise very introverted sound. What it may lack in immediacy it more than makes up for in depth with Martin Bowes’ vocals being almost exclusively of the dark narrative variety. The rest of the set chose choice cuts from the back catalogue giving them all substantially reworked arrangements so that although the set spanned more than two decades, it all blended together nicely. Well, as ‘nicely’ as any Attrition set can sound.

Some traditionalists may have preferred to hear the original arrangements, but most true Attrition fans know not to ‘expect’ anything live. That they are different every time you see them is part of what makes them such an essential live act. Although there were some of Bowes’ familiar on-stage contortions, inhaling of joss-sticks, ripping up of the lyrics to Mercy Machine, and even a bit of public exhibitionism with his wife on the dance floor at one point, this was a relatively low-key performance. Entirely in keeping with the current sound and still exuding dark menace, and every bit as ‘Attrition’ as one might hope.

Set list: Karma Mechanic, Narcissist, Dante’s Kitchen, Acid Tongue, I Am Eternity, One Horse Rider, Two Gods, Mercy Machine, The Long Hall

Rob Dyer

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