Wrangler + Colossloth at The Flapper, Birmingham, UK – 2nd October 2014

Tonight at The Flapper we have a journey into the heart of the machine with Wrangler (the group not the denim manufacturers) a modern day experimental electronic supergroup of the analog kind in its current form since in 2013 and formed by Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire), Phil Winter (Tunng) and Ben Edwards aka Benge (Music Producer, Memetune Record label owner, Solo Artist, Synth collector and John Foxx collaborator et al) as part of a mini tour taking in four dates in Birmingham, Glasgow Sheffield and London.

Wrangler’s name arose from having to “wrangle” the vintage analog equipment used during the various recording sessions. debut release “LA Spark” recorded with vintage analog synthesisers was released in early 2014 on Benge’s own label “Memetune” to critical acclaim and with a few live shows to support the release.

Opening support for tonight’s show is Birmingham based promoter and DJ Chris Wave, whose “Seventh Wave“ is promoting a series of electronic and new wave events in Birmingham. Tonight Wave is in the DJ slot playing an electronic set as warm up for the show.


Next up is Leicester based electronic artist “Wooly” Woolaston aka “Colossloth”, whose music and performance is somewhat surprising for the uninitiated. Colossloth creates his heavy industrial sound crouched down at the front of the stage and pressing the living daylights out of a tablet and effects pad.

Quoted as “defying categorisation, an amalgam, a hybrid of threatening Industrial sounds, surreal string interludes and elements of Musique concrète. At times hauntingly beautiful and at others distressingly portentous! Perhaps the soundtrack for the end of days, or an alien invasion…”


Wrangler arrive on stage at 10.00p.m, to cheers from the audience (perhaps only at half of its usual capacity) and open up with the ambient “Peace and Love” from “LA Spark”, a track recorded for the Tate Modern “Tweet-Me-Up” event in 2012, followed by “Mus IIC” with its vocal sampling and rolling synth line.

The band are lit only by a couple of spots and Winter is almost in darkness to the right of the stage as the minimal lighting seems to concentrate on Mallinder and Benge. A fine mesh curtain is hung at the back of the stage upon which the neon-green Wrangler logo is projected, and primitive neon-green images and shapes contort and shift during the show. “Lavaland”, is an extremely catchy, pulsating number with early “Metamatic era Foxxian” sounding drum machines and growling distorted vocals. “Harder” with dancey rhythms, heavy beats and half whispered vocals, somewhat reminiscent of “The Cabs” and a few people are dancing along. “Modern World” is followed by the album title track “La Spark” and “Theme from Wrangler” is the closer for the set and bleeps us towards the end.

The band return to the stage for an encore with a couple of classic Cabaret Voltaire tracks “Crackdown” and “Sensoria” which are well received by the audience, some of whom have been waiting many years to see any kind of Cabaret Voltaire track played anywhere.

Over the course of an hour and fifteen minute set, Wrangler captivated the audience with their heavy electronic music with tracks from “LA Spark” and classic Cabaret Voltaire tracks to finish the show on a high.

The ticket price for tonight’s show was a bargain at £10, which was exceedingly good value to see a performance by this group of electronic heavyweights. This was another showcase event by Birmingham based avant garde DIY (punk ethos) promoter Andy Hayes (aka Andy Black Forest) whose Radio Black Forest presents a series of musical (and film) events that bring the “esoteric, bizarre and challenging” to a wider public audience across Birmingham and the UK. And tonight we got that in industrial sized slabs of sound.

1. Peace and Love
2. Mus IIC
3. Days
4. Lavaland
5. Harder
6. Space Ace
7. Modern World
8. La Spark
9. Theme from Wrangler

1. Crackdown
2. Sensoria