Ambulance & Danny Figgis
Review of their gig in Whelan's, Dublin, 28 March 2000
The avant-garde are out in force for tonight's show in Whelans. We're treated to recordings of dead beat William S. Boroughs between the acts, and some of tonight's music is difficult on purpose.
Ambulance are ambient techno, but seem to have more of a sense of hook and melody than most. I've started to recognise some good memorable tunes of theirs. The music is warm and mellow with infectious beats. Rare in the genre of intelligent techno, Ambulance have a sense of humour. They've lifted a vocal line from some eighties sleaze merchant. He enters paroxysms about some lady being a slow starter as the band smash their trademark sound down around his orgasm. They also have a live feel to their computer music, a lot of it being improvised on the spot. Whereas usually these gigs are running off a DAT somewhere, Ambulance can be seen scratching their heads and sliding faders all over the place as the gig progresses.
This is the kind of techno you'd be hard pushed to dance to, far better suited to stroking your chin and nodding appreciatively as you sip your pint. In fact I don't think it's that cool to even acknowledge the presence of a band on stage. Ambulance though, are not the typical stony faced techno uber-mensch, they exude a cool funk onstage and even seem to dance at the bits they like best. They haven't got to the waving their fists over their heads yet though.
Next up some angry punk with a telecaster guitar (Christ my ears). Thankfully I've forgotten his name, but he used to play with a band called the Babysnakes back when this sort of shouting Billy Bragg feedback was cool.
Danny Figgis, is accompanied by two scary looking techno-gothics. Their stage presence is magnificent, accented by a huge Harmonium church style organ, which has dominated the stage all night. Smoke billows throughout the set obscuring almost everything and I'm almost sure it was a vampire who played the 'monium.
Crashing dark chords seemed to dominated the set, punctuated by brief seemingly random rhythms from the drummer. Nothing that could be recognised as a song, perhaps a movement, if that's not too pretentious.
After Danny Figgis' set I get into a fight with Trevor from Ambulance. He thinks it's fantastic and I disagree. He thinks this wall of sonic tones is crafted and I think it sounds nothing like intentional. I depart thinking 'Maybe I should never have listened to the Venga Boys, maybe I like pop too much and I can't get my head around this kind of thing anymore'.
In short, Mr. Figgis leaves me confused. That is usually a good thing when you're faced with something your senses aren't attuned to. However he did leave me in great form for Godspeed's gig later in the week.