F.O.N Saturday


A scream claws the dark.  In the middle of the floor is a canvas square. Two figures drag trails of black paint. A ceaselessly grinding cement mixer is manhandled to the centre of the canvas. A woman daubs red paint, incantations rise, harsh raven cries fly.  This is Faust and this is primal driven rock. There are no options and no prevarication with a band like this, of this immensity and power. They are megalithic. Huge and lumbering, a fusion of inescapable dread and awe. They are thunderclouds shot with hand-of-god sunrays. They close their set with the harnessed energy of Kraut Rock not 500 yards from the Assembly Hall where Britain’s latest nuclear submarine lies yet unborn.

Name: Full Of Noises

Age: 1


Place: Barrow-in-Furness

County: Cumbria

Country: England

Day: Saturday

Date: 24th October

Year: 2009

Type: Festival

What: Experimental music

Also: Sound art

Why: Why not?

The Bands



John Wall


Good Noise Bad Noise


Twilight Gatherers


Black Carrot




  1. www.fonfestival.org

  2. wendycook words

  3. mikecook videos & photos

  4. wendycook photos

  5. will photos


Full Of Noises - 09

It is hard to imagine what possesses a band of the stature of Faust to play Barrow-in-Furness, a place about as far as it is possible to be from just about anywhere. And certainly far from London which is where most of the happening things happen to be. I would like to think it was the appeal of playing in a working shipyard that brought them. A shipyard that is building the nearest we have to anything very nasty and dangerous. I think that would rather appeal to the minds who make Faust rock. And passing by the mighty Trident sheds, even their drummer, one helluva man mountain, would feel for once ant size.

The usual thing. The band bring their own band of followers. It is called The Faust List, and they have crawled from furthest corners to be here. This is Faust’s only UK date and a massive coup for the Octopus arts collective at Barrow. But although you need a Big Act for the top of your bill, you also need good stuff lower down. And this festival, of “Experimental Music and Sound Art”, did a good job of living up to its name.

In fact, so packed was it with variety that it could compete with an Old Time Music Hall.

Amongst the assembly of The Great and the Good you have to count John Wall, who is as serious as electronic composition gets. Again, his courtesy or curiosity in attending was commendable. He played a short piece from a table positioned by the sound desk so he could hear the same sounds as the audience (not, he nods towards the stage, “up there like some kind of star”). Despite being a man in a black with a laptop he managed to be a massive photo opportunity – a fact of which he claimed to be utterly oblivious. His sounds are exquisitely crafted and superbly positioned, delivering searing and colourful abstraction; his composition carefully considered, utterly economical, luminous and warm. To hear this kind of music live through a concert PA system was a treat. You could feel the bass thrill across your chest. There has –  as John said – to be some sensuality. A man allowing humanity to breathe inside perfection.

Twilight Gatherers are what happens when you let young people loose with electronics and laptops. Time was, worst that could happen was a full band practice with drums in your son’s bedroom. Nowadays we get this excoriating racket. Someone described it as sounding like a migraine. And you couldn’t disagree.

Good Noise Bad Noise sprawl inelegantly, making a not unpleasant noise but short on poise, clarity and direction. This perhaps, was ceilidh: entertainment primarily for the participants. But art?

Black Carrot on the other hand, are definitely art. But are they entertainment? They have opened for Faust on several occasions and are one of those outfits that leave you open-jawed in astonishment at their awful cheek, questioning whether they aren’t just having a laugh at your expense. They are a jazz influenced group with musicianship branded on their foreheads. They have a singer who yelps like a maniac and not in a good way. And lyrics that really are desperate. “Cardboard soup”? They definitely know what they are doing but whether it is something I want to hear is another matter.  As their set ends, I am left only with questions. But I did buy a CD to investigate further so I guess the job’s a gud’un, lads.

Out back, in the yard, is Tonefloat, an enchanting milk float singing plinkety plonk  tunes from milk bottles pinged by solenoids and whistling with compressed air.






scrolls by on a screen mounted in the cab followed by a short video of Camberwick Green milkmen executing a cute little robotic dance. Everyone smiles.

Barrow . . . yes, Barrow-in-Furness  . . .  really did do an experimental music festival. You may not have been there but I swear it is true. And some kind of improbability sum must now be complete.

All credit to Octopus, not just for the nailbiting, handwringing grind it probably takes to crack something like this, but for their sheer audacity in believing it to be possible.