Show Review: Pop.1280 At Parts and Labour

By Adam Bernhardt

Parts and Labor is essentially a basement with a PA system. As such, it has a certain vague industrial feel about it, and the gritty cramped concrete interior lends itself well to bands that play loud, noisy and confrontational music.  The upscale restaurant on the ground floor could not contrast any further than the basement venue, which plays hosts to numerous hardcore shows. In this vein, Pop. 1280 dropped by to promote their new album, Imps of Perversion, a clamorous journey to the dark heart of humanity that easily parallels the gloom and doom of the world of Edgar Allan Poe, the author of this album’s namesake. Themes of death, violence, control and power reoccur throughout Pop.1280’s lyrical landscape, making Imps of Perversion one of the most harrowing albums released this year.  Matching their lyrical intensity is a compelling mix of industrial synth-bass and ear splittingly shrill blasts of guitar that meander in and out over a pounding primeval beat. Local supporting acts, Mimico and Mexican Slang, promised an evening of abrasive fun.

Mexican Slang performing at Parts and Labour

Mexican Slang performing at Parts and Labour

Mimico, who describe themselves as “psychedelic industrial goth prog,” opened the evening’s festivities.  Conjuring up dense waves of rolling glacial synths and reverberating whispers, Mimico were at once spellbinding and hypnotic. Heavily delayed guitars swirled kaleidoscopically over a mesmerizing Teutonic pulse that seemingly pointed to both post-punk and the psychedelic, merging notions of inner and outer space into one fluid entity.  Mimico played with an admirable tightness, noticeable in the abrupt stop of one frenzied song. They finished their set with a feverish intensity before letting the cool oscillations of a densely reverberating synth echo into nothingness.  Mexican Slang drew on a heavy lineage of sludge and surf, their queasy dark garage act coming across as the sound of an ecological disaster. Unfortunately beset by technical difficulties at the beginning of their set, they were, by the end, able to win the audience over.

Naturally, Pop.1280 drew heavily from their most recent album, although they did mix it up with tracks off of 2012’s The Horror and their 2011 EP, The Grid. Pop.1280 were definitely the most intense act that played, their pounding harshness contrasted vividly with Mimico and Mexican Slang. Singer Chris Bug stalked the stage menacingly, sometimes flailing around wildly, sometimes lying prostrate, and sometimes sitting at the edge of the stage. The mixture of movement was so vast that one could not help but be caught up in his frighteningly sleazy gyrations. Pop.1280 (3)On “Beg Like a Human,” his veins were practically bursting out of his forehead as he ended the song in the fetal position, screaming the refrain with just the right amount of misanthropic disgust. The single flourescent light that lit the stage gave a certain alien pallor to his wiry, thin frame, which served to heighten the otherworldly nature of their performance. While Mimico were content to use synths and noise to achieve a more spacey sound, Pop. 1280’s driving synth bass line (courtesy of Allegra Sauvage) were more akin to a much more earthly fistfight. Ivan Lip’s guitar screeched like a high-powered industrial drill, while the rhythms laid down by the drummer Andy Chugg were often tribal and visceral. By the end of the set, Chugg had chosen to play the snare drum with his forehead. While it would have been nice to see some of their more brooding numbers like “Riding Shotgun”, the fast paced and occasionally oddly danceable numbers (“Do the Anglerfish’’ especially) they played were exciting and captivating all the same. Bug claimed this was just the beginning of their first tour in Canada, and it will hopefully not be the last.

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