Men Imitating Machines

Bethan Shuff || July 2016


MIM gave at talk at Wavemaker earlier that day.

MIM gave at talk at Wavemaker earlier that day.

As I walked into Entrepreneurs I was greeted by the bubbly and optimistic Benedict McManus who directed me upstairs where the gig would be taking place. I was lead into a warm and homely room with an alcove full of kit and a small area where we would be standing to enjoy the show.

In the corner of the room was a table of beautifully packaged beers, it could only be the one and only Bottlecraft. I’ve heard lots of great things about this niche little store in Hanley. They specialise in bringing new things to the table, selling craft and continental beers that won’t be found in your local Tesco! Their employees are fully equipped with the knowledge about their products and are able to fulfil any beer-lovers requirements in both a professional and fun way! I decided to try a Salty Kiss beer, mainly due to its pretty pink packaging! It’s a light and refreshing larger with a hint of salt that gives it a bit of a tangy kick, but a berry element that’s super sweet.

After watching Jub Jub soundcheck, the duo turn to me for a favour: makeup. The lads are no stranger to a bit of face paint, I mean, if you saw them at this year’s Lymelight festival, you’d have seen the pair of them with French mime make-up. This time Ben wanted a UV superhero mask and Sven wanted Jack Skeleton eyes, so that’s what they got! I decided that this was going to be a very interesting evening.

25-30 people had gathered in the upstairs space of Entrepreneurs, drinking Bottlecraft beers and socialising. There was a real sense of community and intimacy, an atmosphere that Ben had hoped for when organising the gig.

Jub Jub took to the floor amongst the crowd and played a sample on the Apple Mac to introduce the set. UV lights illuminated the duo’s faces, and also the scribbles of sharpie on Ben’s bass that were drawn by his children.

The intro song was an instrumental track called Hunca Munca, which introduced us to the grunge/synth/pop sound that Jub Jub possesses. Ben’s heavy, seismic bass makes the ground rumble and your heart beat out of your chest whilst Sven laid down some funky guitar riffs.

Between tracks Ben has a little chat to us, whether it be reviewing the Bottlecraft beers or voicing his opinion on the Brexit campaign, which was evidently ‘Remain’ just by looking at his t-shirt which had a quote veering towards unity in Europe – rather apt as it was the night before voting would commence. This was apparently Ben’s idea of ‘not talking’ according to Sven – they had made the samples so that Ben didn’t have to talk during the set… that didn’t go as planned...

The set consisted of 6 tracks which can all be found on Jub Jub’s EP, the reverb on Ben’s microphone gave the electronic edge, but in reality, Ben’s lungs don’t need a mic to be heard! The duo rocked their way through with cool distortions and pedal effects until the final track ‘For What It’s Worth’ a more chilled out, almost subdued track. It was a really sweet and endearing track to finish the set with and the audience reaction was heart-warming.

The headline act for the evening was Aussie duo, Men Imitating Machines.

Now, imagine your stereotypical Australian – what do you envisage?

In front of me stood 2 men in summer shorts, caps and flip flops, despite the fact that the sun and rain had been fighting all day; oh an not forgetting that famous accent from the Fosters adverts! Jarmen Donohue and Matty O’Brien were so laid back they could be horizontal, but when they started to play their relaxed personas turned into fiery and exciting musicians.

The men slipped off their shoes and took occupancy of their gear – drums and bass. I was instantly overwhelmed at the ingeniousness of the projection show behind them that was being controlled by their instruments; what I didn’t realise was that it was only a taster of what was to come. As the duo powered through creative drum samples and heavy bass beats their animations became crazier and their lyrics, even more bizarre: ‘I like to have sex with robots, I had sex with a microwave and now my robot genitals are nuclear’. Not your conventional song writing, but amusing and interesting all the same. Jarmen’s robotic vocals add to the unusual style of music and transform it into a funky electronic dance track.

The set was packed full of insane build-ups and climaxes that could have dropped at any second, it provided an element of surprise which isn’t usually found in electronic music – I’ve always found it rather samey and predictable, but Men Imitating Machines have broken the rules. Their unconventional take on music is a new, pioneering and exciting experience to endure.

Matt’s drumming is properly insane; whilst using a sample pad might sound somewhat easy, it definitely doesn’t look it! The way Matt was smashing down on the drums and thrashing about, I genuinely thought he was going to impale himself with a stick.

A real highlight of the evening was a track called Fitness Wiv Mi Bitches which had some cool wah-wah bass effects, but I was nearly in tears laughing at the projection show of male and female 70’s fitness workout videos behind them.

Another track that I really enjoyed was entitled When We Dance which was really bouncy and trippy; when the bass line dropped it sounded a little bit like Skrillex’s Bangarang. Each track MIM performed was cleverly constructed electronic madness with an infections vibe that just made you want to dance.