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As far as interesting performance spaces go, German motorship Stubnitz outta Rostock must surely score near the top. A working 260-footer that traverses the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the inland waterways of Germany, it offers up a floating anarcho-industrial environment where the crew live & work, putting on live music shows. And they sure run a tight ship: friendly, well-organised, great sound and some great acts performing on a full & varied programme. There have been shows by the likes of Dälek, Mouthus, Spectre and Sensational during the Stubnitz’s temporary Amsterdam stopover, but it was back in late September when I was drawn across the water to the lysergic sounds of LSD March, the Japanese guitar-&-percussion duo proud to call the the surrounds of the mighty Himeji home.

To reach the Stubnitz’s mooring on the NDSM Werf we catch one of the free ferries that run regularly from Centraal Station, transporting people and their bikes across the broad IJ that divides Amsterdam from its northern suburbs. The approach to the ship is across the wide plain where around at the same time a year previously a brutal battle took place between two robot armies. Arriving on the big open deck, the location of the ship’s mooring allows great views back over the water to central Amsterdam and its other northern wharves. You then descend down into the bar area, suitably retro-futuristic in its bare-metal Mad Maxiness.

A large central opening down to the lower deck allows enjoyment of the sonic proceedings even when topping up on necessary lubricants. The stairs further down into the ship’s metal innards takes one past the back of the stage and round into the pipe-encovered belly, from where you can enjoy the performance from many different vantage points (two camerapeople up close shoot interesting views of the onstage events, broadcast to the TVs suspended in the corners of this metal maw).

First up is Ignatz, a Belgian guitarist extracting noisy blues out of his battered six-string, sitting cross-legged in front of an array of pedals. He evokes the dusty Depression-era blues when men would sell their souls at a deserted crossroads just to be able to play with style – but standing in all that steel, Bram Devens captured in close-up on the screens, the distorted electricity of it all makes for a weirdly futuristic experience. It’s feedback-drenched folk that traverses the Appalachian hills in some far-off future, akin to Flying Saucer Attack sweeping over the English moors.

LSD March‘s opener is the highlight of the evening for me – desolate peals of spaghetti-western guitar, a rumbling storm of percussion, and Shinsuke Michishita’s mournful wail slowly drawing in to an eruption of metallic shards of  noise. Michishita’s performance is consumed and restrained at the same time, even the slow delicate strums have a barely-suppressed force about them, before he loses himself in the anguished noise that closes the song. Michishita, his long black hair often completely covering his face, is accompanied by drummer Ikuro Takahashi (an alumnus of such luminaries as Fushitsusha, High Rise, Maher Shalal Hash Baz and Nagisa Ni Te) who brings subtle accents to the songs with his expressive percussion, as well as providing the more explosive punctuations that anchor Michishita’s bashed chords.

 

The next song layers sparse riffs over an organic tribal beat, the two performers meshing to create a propulsive and compelling dirge that could soundtrack a crossing into the Yōkai-filled spirit world. The third and final song sees Takahashi leave his kit to display his prowess with a saxophone mouthpiece, a high-pitched squeal doing battle with Michishita’s waves of feedback scree, all captured in close-up on the surrounding screens.

Here is the first song from LSD March‘s set, captured in the Museu do Chiado in Lisbon, a week before I saw them in Amsterdam.

LSD March – Untitled (part I) (live in Portugal)

LSD March – Untitled (part II) (live in Portugal)

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