Words by Emily Doyle, images by Bryony Williams
Saturday 3rd July saw the first in-person event from Supersonic Festival since Covid-19 hit. Blue Ruth, THE SEER and Allami, Barri and Krishnamurthy provided the entertainment in front of a sold out seated crowd for the grand finale of Centrala’s All Systems Go live music series.
Birmingham-born musician, Blue Ruth (aka Kaila Whyte – formerly the guitarist in Youth Man) released their debut EP ‘Mausoleum’ on the newly re-formed Supersonic Recordings – a label championing the best in experimental and genre-bending music for curious audiences. To celebrate, they’re treating us to a live set of their desolate industrial beats in all their noisy, lo-fi glory.
Kicking off the night is a screening of a new AV piece by Ivor Novello nominee Khyam Allami in collaboration with audiovisual composer and programmer Tarik Barri and singer Nakul Krishnamurthy. The piece combines vocals and synth lines to explore and develop connections between Arabic and Indian music. The result is a powerful, otherworldly piece of music accompanied by hypnotic computer generated visuals.
Blue Ruth is nervous about their performance tonight, but they have no reason to be. The grinding synth lines are irresistible, hitting eager audience members straight in the chest. Agitated beats skitter around the room while Whyte leans over the table of blinking lights and patch cables. A wash of sickly green light makes the Dennis McNett artwork at the back of the stage glow against the curtains. Whyte’s vocals drift above the fizz of noise, intoning about the concrete Birmingham backdrop. Equal parts urgency and disinterest, they’re coming from a relatable place this deep into a global pandemic.
Artist Conny Prantera rounds off the evening under the guise “The Seer”. The performance, titled “Human?” opens with a strangled rendition of “The End of The World”, backed by primal electronic beats from Tom Fug of Supersonic favourites Gum Takes Tooth. Costumed in a greying tunic with elbow length rubber gloves and a non-descript paper mache mask, Prantera is a confrontational presence. Her confessional monologuing is at odds with the oppressive strobe lighting and her shamanic presence. It’s poetic, arrestic, and at times baffling – no one expected her to cook up a pack of instant ramen half way through the set.
Tonight was always going to be surreal, so the bill couldn’t have been more fitting. Here’s to more great events from the Supersonic team in future. In the meantime, head to their website to get your hands on the limited physical release of Blue Ruth’s ‘Mausoleum’ EP, out now on cassette via Supersonic recordings.