The Bug VS. Dylan Carlson
Dylan Carlson is an icon of Seattle's '90s rock scene, a former friend of Kurt Cobain and subject of the Nirvana song "In Bloom." He also pioneered the sound of drone metal—or "ambient metal," as he once called it—primarily with the band Earth, whose album Earth 2 is considered a landmark of the genre. The Bug, AKA Kevin Martin, though known for his mutations of dub and dancehall, has deep roots in guitar music, having made his debut in a jazzcore band called GOD. The duo's 2014 12-inch for Ninja Tune sounded a bit like a record in split-screen: Carlson's guitar on one side, Martin's colossal drums on the other. At CTM's finale event, they jelled more nicely.
Onstage in Heimathafen Neukölln, Carlson looked utterly metal, a long-haired silhouette wreathed in smoke, lightning-bolt shaped guitar resting low on his thigh, while Martin manned a cockpit of more ambiguous equipment. Their walls of sound were more soothing than abrasive, drifting heavily through the cavernous theater. It was a while before any drums came in—long enough for the crowd to wonder if they were coming—and when they did, they were slinky and syncopated, evoking a trip-hop-like aura of mystery and dread. For many people in the room, this was the tenth, 11th, 20th performance of the week, and it filled that role nicely, giving us something dark and hypnotic to zone out to. In what might have been a rock/electronic culture clash, Martin and Carlson surprised everyone by finishing and then coming back onstage for an encore. Many of us had our coats and scarves on by then, but gladly stuck around for a few more waves of undulating fuzz.