Bein-E and Attrition – Zed Alley, Bristol – 15-09-2023

Bein-E (In full: Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand [Bein-a-hel-den-shafts-gegen-stand]
Noun: The thing that is almost the thing you want.. but not quite) are a female-fronted ambient, experimental, industrial noise project “born of heartbreak and friendship and change”.

I know that now but failed to do my normal due diligence before the gig, so I went in cold.

And was blown away.

Bein-e performing at Zed Alley

Any performance which is prefaced with the frontwoman announcing “fuck the tories” is a good start.

Bein-e performing at Zed Alley

When that is followed by a set full of ethereal noise-y experimental soundscapes where it is hard to tell where one track ends and the next begins, I am completely drawn in. The use of the same bell sound as on the Coil version of Tainted Love made me fall in love. I filmed for a random five minutes to give you an idea of the experience.

This is my kind of industrial noise – mesmerising and meditative rather than an aural assault. In fact, I hesitate to use the word “noise” because that has come to have connotations or something much messier and less pleasant, but technically it’s a good description.

For a bit of context – back in the late 80s and early 90s I listened to a lot of bands like Coil and Current 93 so this was exactly up my street. I’ve fallen away form these genres in recent years but after Friday night, I’m motivated to go back to that.

They’ve been going for ten years and have a fairly chunky back catalogue. A good deal of it is name your price, so get yourself to Bandcamp, chuck some pennies in their direction and for the love of all that is holy go see them live if you get a chance.

Attrition have been around since 1980 and were a formative part of the industrial music scene along with bands like Einstürzende Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire, etc. I discovered them in the late 1990s/early 2000s when they were signed to Projekt Records (which label was the destination of most of my income in those days).

I’d seen them live once before at a tiny pub called The Junction in Stokes Croft in 2008. It was like having the band play in my living room.

I’d forgotten just how good they are live. Their sound too is a mesmerising and meditative experience, but the show is lively enough to keep the audience grounded.  It’s a multi-sensory experience – Martin performs with a whole package of lit incense. He gives an impassioned performance throughout.

The female vocalist has a formidable timbre & range and she brings an impressive presence to the stage.

Personally, I love to watch people do weird things with synths live. Another thing I’d forgotten about Attrition is that it’s possible to bounce around to most of their tracks, so the crowd was quite lively.

In short, Attrition are an important part of scene history but this show is not a nostalgia trip. They’re still creating new things and putting on meaningful performances. On the one hand they definitely deserve to be playing to bigger, fuller venues, but on the other the intimacy of the performance is a big part of what makes it so special. Two Gods was a highlight, but it was all quite wonderful.

These two bands together were an obvious lineup as they complement each others’ styles perfectly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my Bandcamp cart is about to fill up with dark ambient electronica.