Test Dept @ Studio 9294

Test Dept ‘Disturbance’ album launch @ Studio 9294, London, Friday 26th April 2019



Test Dept, Studio 9294 - pic Terry Tyldesley

In a timeless canalside warehouse, Hackney Wick’s Studio 9294, Test Dept disciples were out in force. From long lost friends greeting each other like combat veterans, to newer generations of noise merchants and industrial appreciators swelling the ranks.

The space shook mightily to composer and producer Shelley Parker’s bass heavy set, her dark, intense sounds and beats stirring the crowd, a primal wake up call ahead of Test Dept’s highly-anticipated album launch performance.

They arrived on stage as a four piece, with sound desk action from album producer and engineer Lottie Lou, and epic visuals from David Altweger shooting out from a projector the size of a fridge.

Test Dept were back, firing on all cylinders, not operating in any kind of revivalist way. Leading the charge from the front, eviscerating political crimes and orange-faced tyranny through the medium of deep drum-based dance music.

Test Dept, Studio 9294 - pic Terry Tyldesley

Long term fans would have spotted less metal on stage than in previous incarnations, no gargantuan industrial objects. Tonight was more about burning rubber musically, with tyres housing set ups that could be beaten and smashed, and morph into different heavy sounds that enveloped the audience.

Paul Jamrozy blasted a horn like a primeval prophet, and pummelled sheets of metal, at times also wielding a giant marching style drum that dwarfed any of the other percussion.

He alternated and at times doubled on vocals with Graham Cunnington, relaying sharp and powerful words. Graham too was hammering away with his own sonic palette of metal and more.

Drummer Zel Kaute pounded out rhythms, sometimes tribal, sometimes militaristic, anchoring and driving the ferocious four.

Test Dept, Studio 9294 - pic Terry Tyldesley

The new tunes were fresh and urgent, ‘Landlord’ an eviscerating dance anthem exposing profiteering and housing failures, ‘Europe’ channelling history to warn of the darkness of the new far right and ‘fascistic populism’, ‘Speak Truth To Power’ an urgent battle cry to resist the ‘truth deficit’.

Perfectly executed visuals created a totally immersive Test Dept experience. Images of devastation, occupation. A naked rotating figure, filthy newspaper headlines, a monolithic hyena, all filling the warehouse with spectacle. Shock and awe and art and dancing.

Dark times, dark subjects, but the treatment uniquely bright and galvanizing. Nourishment for the fight.

*Test Dept interview on the making of new album ‘Disturbance’ here. Album available from One Little Indian Records.