On arrival at The Peer Hat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I was greeted by a tall knight in full metal armour, posters of tarot reading sessions, and a contorted picture of Margaret Thatcher on a shelf above the bar.
I had previously seen Gary Fisher perform in his experimental band Rodney, who also employ improvisation as a key element to their performance. But this would be the first time I’d see him play a solo set.
The bar and its various scattered miscellaneous objects had stirred an intrigue leading me downstairs to the venue. As I opened the door, a gust shifted the wall of thick fog which had stagnated behind it. Paintings of medieval occult sigils decorated the walls and tattered bunting hung from the ceiling. A trigger-happy technician stood behind his sound desk in the corner with a crazed smile, pumping more smoke into the atmosphere. Through the haze, a soft glow pulsated, emanating from a tangled ball of wires. On top – a split jagged cymbal.
After a moment of anticipation, a cacophonous vortex of scraping screams pierced through the crowd as Fisher grazed the rim of the fractured cymbal with a broken whammy bar. Each sweep built an echo chamber of wails and cries. He jabbed the cymbal with a percussion mallet, each hit throbbed and reverberated, simulating the sound of a kick drum. Fading up in the background and bringing an end to the sounds of the infernal soundscape, sandy gliding waves sat below a bed of swelling aquatic textures. As a glassy arpeggiated melody bounced around the room, an aura of blue mist oscillated around Fisher’s head.
Straying away from conventional song structures, Fisher’s set took the form of a half-hour improvised symphonic tale. The climax manifested as a fitful cavernous kick layered on top of gouging bass stabs that sank deep into the flesh of the crowd. The resolution? The manipulated creaking floorboards of Salford Museum and Art Gallery. The field recording loosely resembled an IDM beat and slowly faded out, concluding the set.
Fisher’s live performance was hypnotic and immersed the listener in demonic hellscapes and lush sacred gardens of sonic delights. Keep an eye out for his live shows and prepare to be wowed.
By Brandon Charlesworth
To listen to Gary Fisher’s work, click here.