Kollaps, Geneva cave12, 11 December 2022

On a cold Sunday evening in mid-December, perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that cave12 was less than full for the visit of Australian post-industrial trio Kollaps. Which was a shame, because they delivered a deliriously powerful set, ensuring that my last concert of 2022 was also one of the best. It was my first time seeing Kollaps, but they’re one of those groups that seem committed to touring on a regular basis, so I very much hope it won’t be the last.

A few months ago on these pages, I noted that the first thing I learned about Swiss industrial rockers The Young Gods was that they named themselves after an early Swans song. So it doesn’t seem entirely out of place to mention here that the Kollaps project was named after the first Einstürzende Neubauten album, even though group leader Wade Black admitted in a 2021 interview that he now regrets using the name. It doesn’t seem that much of a problem to me, though. As with The Young Gods, we’re dealing with a historical narrative here, a continuum of influences and connections which helps us to situate Kollaps within the blasted landscape of post-industrial music.

Those influences and connections were all there at cave12, hiding in plain sight. Certainly, Kollaps’ use of a metal coil as a percussion instrument and a sheet of metal as a prop evoked memories of Neubauten at their most extreme. Moreover, Black’s mesmerizing stage presence, frenzied vocal attack and occasional swigs from a bottle of beer inevitably called to mind William Bennett in his Whitehouse heyday. Black, however, traded Bennett’s absurd stripped-to-the-waist look for a sharp suit and a demeanour charged with don’t-fuck-with-me menace. Prowling the stage as if looking for trouble, his stick-thin figure bathed in red light and dry ice, Black was one of the most incendiary and compelling frontmen I’ve ever seen.

I seem to have got this far in the review without mentioning the actual music. Well, it could scarcely have been any more visceral and thrilling – a set of punishing industrial soundscapes that were as listenable as they were brutal. Bass player Andrea Collaro issued waves of rhythmic invention, and put that metal coil through its paces with jackhammer ferocity. Meanwhile, drummer Giorgio Salmoiraghi used his minimal kit to ruthless effect, proving that you can always do more with less. Both men also seemed to be triggering samples from sets of foot pedals, the resulting beats and drones forming the ferocious heart of the Kollaps sound.

As for Black, he sang, howled and bellowed his way through the songs as if summoning up forces that one might prefer to remain dormant. If the lyrics were mostly inaudible, they nevertheless evoked a kind of raw abjection, a doomed self-awareness played out in Black’s agonized movements and haunted, troubling visions. After a short set – 45 minutes, no encore – Kollaps were gone. It was the kind of concert that leaves you drained, confused and uplifted in just about equal measure.

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