Review: Mars-96 – Live At Dada

Mars-96 - Live At DadThere’s too much energy rumbling through Mars-96 to guarantee anything longer than 30 seconds of rhythmic coherence (melodic coherence never gets a look in). For fleeting stretches, everything locks down – drums solidify into jackhammer rhythms while the guitars twitch uncomfortably within the state of unison, lingering upon the idea for as long as they can handle the air of mutual agreement. Inevitably, everything splays again. The guitars wail and spiral dissonantly away from the beat. The drumkit caves in on itself. Voices scream from somewhere within. There’s a touch of Lightning Bolt to how the music entertains moments of musical civility – even if just to mock the very notion of it – before bounding back into the more familiar premise of rabid destruction, quenching their penchant for the messy dispute.

This particular recording (one of three live sets recently put out on pan y rosas discos) was captured at Club Dada in St Petersburg. It’s wonderfully rough. The cymbals often spurt into a frenzy that drowns all high frequencies, showering the room in sibilance as guitars thrash just beneath the surface. Equally, the moments of guitar low-end cause the microphone to rumble and distort, creating an even more gruesome tone than was probably present in the room at the time of capture. After a ceaseless 21 minutes of this ferocious mess, Mars-96 fall silent to the sound of timid applause. Naively unimpressed? Musically perplexed? Momentarily shell-shocked?