Liverpool sometimes spews out a musical jewel that’s so intensely backwards, so amiss, that you can’t help but stare, but without such anomalies there would be nothing to offset the routineness of predictability in music and make you truly appreciate its possibilities. BARBEROS are one such act: a trio of Lycra-clad polyrhythmic noise-fanatics who find a constant within aural disorder.
Their latest release, OOO, is an exceptionally frenetic affair, one that intertwines between a cacophony of manipulated noise and broadening percussive heartbeats, flailing its way through your eardrums, and lamenting with brief moments of transitional calm. With four years elapsed since their foundation, they still display no signs of flirting with normality: “We started after a party in 2008, when the four original members decided it would be funny to start a band with just three drummers and electronics”. Comprised of PL (Drums/Vocals), UJ (Synths) and OD (Drums/Vocals), Barberos’ sound resonates through a musical pallet that ranges from neo-classical to grind. “As we’re all from quite different musical backgrounds I think it’s almost impossible to pin our sound to any group of genres,” states PL. “I usually say that we’re an avant-electro progressive noise-core band.” However, regardless of labels and tags, it’s clear to see that they are, at the very core of things, an act that strives to test the limit of what’s acceptable.
Witnessing Barberos live, audiences are often torn between bewilderment and intrigue, as they are assailed by projected visuals, intense theatrics and aural malevolence; ‘conventional’ is certainly a word that has escaped the band’s lexis. For PL and company, they aim to not simply appease expectations of how a live performance should unfold; rather, they want to affect and involve the onlookers in unfamiliar ways, for the better or worse: “We’ve certainly freaked a fair few people out, and confused the hell out of a fair few others, and that makes it all worthwhile”. Intriguingly, despite their lunacy, there is a method behind this madness, as they propose that people shouldn’t just listen to their music, but should also experience it. It’s through enveloping themselves in full-body Lycra garbs that they enable this connection: “We all wanted our live shows to have theatrical influence and be a bit more of an experience than just watching a band.” explains PL. “I think costume makes a big difference to the audience’s reactions when watching us, as it removes the human element.” Their shows aren’t about a one-way relationship of recital, instead they haul spectators into their own discordant realm and compel them to see and hear things differently. This disembodiment is vital to who they are, as they’re not just three musicians sharing a stage with individual agendas, they’re Barberos – a collective unit cast with wonderfully succinct irrationalities.
Underlining their passion for this project is an extensive touring résumé, which emphasises that, although it began simply as a passing thought, it’s now something that’s far more engrained into their lives. “We’ve managed to tour quite a lot around Europe over the last few years and have had the pleasure of playing with some of our absolute heroes” enthuses PL. “When you’re out on the road, it really hits home how far the DIY community extends, and that there are like-minded people doing incredible things all over the place.” Writhing themselves out of their own comfort zone is only natural for a band that performs in rubber suits, and challenging limits is a monumental part of who they are. “We’ve so far accumulated four hospital visits, three missed flights, one crushed testicle and countless weirdos.” As PL continues, it becomes clear just how much of a significant role touring has played: “Through it we have found influence and inspiration which has helped us sculpt our music and continue to write and function.” It shows that theirs is a sound that isn’t mechanically constructed behind a computer screen; instead it’s something that has been naturally accumulated, built upon from the contexts and experiences they have undergone. Yet despite this activity throughout Europe, they are still very much rooted in the nucleus of Liverpool: “We’ve been ‘off the scene’ for a while. But, although we haven’t actually performed in Liverpool for almost a year now, we’re all still involved in aspects of the city,” stresses PL. “We work with the guys from MelloMello and The Kazimier fairly regularly. I think the community that’s built up around the Kazimier especially is key to what makes Liverpool a really exciting place to be at the moment.”
Like all good releases, OOO takes time to really appreciate; at first listen it appears overflowing with clattering disarray, but upon further inspection, it gradually begins to crystallise. Whether it’s the pulsating anticipation of Hot Squash, or the sprawling outbursts within Les Noisettes, the band manage to carefully retain a subtle fluidity that’s simultaneously immersive and stimulating. Though their release quite rightly demands your attention, it is also symbolic of what they represent: an embodiment of community, a hardworking attitude and an unadulterated love, not only of what they do, but also how they do it. The only way to truly appreciate Barberos is not through my countless adjectives, but rather to experience them with your own bewildered eyes and ears.
OOO is available to purchase and stream now at barberos.bandcamp.com