Festival preview: Total Inertia at Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Phantom Chips. Picture: Ali WadePhantom Chips. Picture: Ali Wade
Phantom Chips. Picture: Ali Wade
A new three day festival of experimental, underground and improvised music, Total Inertia brings an exceptional array of musicians from across Europe to the intimate stage of Wharf Chambers, Leeds from September 23-25.

The event has grown out of the activities of Cops and Robbers, the monthly DIY publication and gig promoter that has been active for over 15 years and continues to champion Leeds’ weirder and more marginal music.

Sharing this fiercely independent approach is headliner Richard Dawson, who honed his unique combination of folk standards, virtuoso guitar picking and darkly hilarious storytelling on Newcastle’s underground music scene for years before his last album Nothing Important brought him BBC 6 Music and Radio 3 airplay and international acclaim. An early convert, the comedian Stewart Lee has raved about his “heavenly avant-folk harmonies and ugly-beautiful noise”.

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Elsewhere on the bill, the premiere of venerable cracked lounge crooner Herb Diamante’s collaboration with wild Leeds newcomers Guttersnipe is a must-see. Also from Leeds, the legendary Vibracathedral Orchestra were once memorably described by Julian Cope as sounding “like two huge hunched giants with pudgy hands each playing drones on barn-sized synthesizers, as tiny humanoids rush about interrupting the sound with percussive toys, pitch pipe squarks and sprinkles of distant drum clatter”.

WIDT. Picture: Jakub CelejWIDT. Picture: Jakub Celej
WIDT. Picture: Jakub Celej

An ‘audiovisual co-operation’ by two sisters from Warsaw, WIDT use voice, synthesizers, effects, an old TV set and analogue video equipment to deliver a haunting, psychedelic live show. Rotterdam’s neo nowave clatterers Sweat Tongue promise abrasive, detuned exhilaration and Glasgow’s Apostille brings his depraved, deconstructed electronic pop south of the border. There’s intense post-rock from Spain with Picore and synth mangling from Germany with Mik Quantius of Krautrock greats Embryo. Leeds’s long lineage of experimental music is acknowledged with an appearance from free music heavyweights Alan Wilkinson and Paul Hession, who founded the fabled and hugely influential jazz and improv platform The Termite Club in the city in the early 1980s.

Total Inertia takes place at Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, LS2 7EQ, a co-operatively run bar and music venue established in 2011 in a former Victorian former pork-pie factory in the centre of the city. A The club will be open to non-members for the weekend of Total Inertia. For more information visit wharfchambers.org.

Day and weekend tickets are available from www.totalinertia.co.uk now.

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