Miles Brown makes use of the Hobart church’s powerful pipe organ for a virtuosic theremin concert. Doused in fog, silhouetted in monochromatic light, all we can see is a hand coaxing soprano-like warbles from thin air. It’s Brown in a cape on his rare Moog Etherwave Pro. Silly and bombastic; it’s the best church-rock gig ever.
There’s been some local grumblings about The Crossing’s reappropriation of houses of worship – Brown has been labelled a Satanist in some corners of YouTube, much to his probable delight – resulting in two of the venues being shifted. Tonight there’s no angry villagers in the building. If there were they might well have read Brown and Shilo’s gorgeously lit performance of goth-tinged, spectral electro as moving tribute to the hallowed space. I did.
Our last event was The Crossing…A musical pilgrimage that had travelled through some 200kms to some noted churches in Tasmania, featuring light installations and the work of Miles Brown, an incredible sci-fi synth theremin player that had us transfixed in our church pews. I came away from the experience feeling like all my goth fantasies had been sated.
Theremin ambassador, Miles Brown — best known as the mastermind behind horror synth outfit The Night Terrors — has just released his debut solo album Séance Fiction. Cold and minimal, lead single “Apparition” is a hypnotically entrancing twist on his previous work, with Pet Shop pop flirtations shifting the track from it’s introspectively bleakness towards anthemic inclusiveness.
Brown’s Theremin wails like a swooning disco siren deep in the grips of demonic possession.
Miles gets behind that theremin, starts waving his hand around with a solemn look on his face and somehow everything turns into an expression of delightfully creepy, slithering beauty.
Then came the “musical performance”. Oh, my God! In came a weird-looking bloke who looked like he was auditioning to be the stand-in for Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Up in the pulpit he played his no-touch thingumabob accompanied by the drones of the organist. In the background were images of naked men and women lolling around like zombies. I half expected good old Beelzebub to make a guest appearance and do the job on the bull then and there. After half an hour I couldn’t take any more. I had to go and watch my beloved Saints play footy on TV. Some people call this art. As for me, I think it was more akin to a product that actually emanates from the bull.
letters to the editor, The Mercury
Ascending the steps toward the venue’s rehearsal attic, drawn in by the ethereal sounds of a Theremin – played with surprising lyricism by electronica virtuoso Miles Brown – we eventually arrive in a sterile white room, a blank canvas of expressive potential. Abbott fills this creative vacuum with a series of bold incursions, largely danced by Abbott and Cheryl Cameron, often totally nude. Lit with striking blocks of colour and scored with monolithic fugs of sound, it offers a narrative conceit played out in reverse – an implosive reaction to an iconic moment of the classical ballet canon, the solo of The Dying Swan.
Miles Brown is the Night Terrors’ notional leader and, if you’re prepared to wear the pretension of the concept, the auteur. His command of the theremin is freakish – compared to Brown, Jon Spencer is a kindergarten student playing on a toy xylophone. The synth melodies are somewhere between celestial and pan-galactic. It’s 1985 meets 2001, Harold Faltermeyer on a cryptographic bender with Carl Sagan, Krautrock on a New Age journey into a higher level of cerebral understanding.
The band is centred around virtuosic theremin player Miles Brown, classically trained, to watch him perform with this remarkable instrument is a thing of beauty…The Night Terrors effortlessly bridge worlds. From a grand old instrument originally built in 1929 to almost current day analogue electronics to an instrument you can’t touch that was also invented in the early 1920s. From film soundtrack music to stadium rock, from the electronic to the gothic. They’re making darkly complex and eerily compelling fusions that not only defy easy categorisation but also seem to plug straight into the emotions.
Miles Brown of The Night Terrors cuts an intimidating figure as he stands poised gracefully before his theremin, deftly creating sonic bliss with the tightly controlled movements of his hands.
The Night Terrors’ ace in the hole, of course, is the masterful theremin work of band progenitor Miles Brown. Live, his right hand is transfixing to the point of initial distraction – tones telekinetically extracted from antenna. The novel, retro-futurist stigma associated with the instrument dissipates instantly as Brown (trained in the craft by Lydia Kavina, regarded as the world’s leading thereminist) conjures steady melody in an aural sphere somewhere amongst soprano and violin.
Unsurprisingly for such an accomplished musician and composer, musically this is all top-drawer stuff…Séance Fiction is music to move about to, whether it’s jumping about like a loon or just moping about forwards and backwards like goths did in the 1990s… but however you react to it, a kinetic reaction is pretty much inevitable.
Having grown up on a steady diet of 80s grindhouse, exploitation and a shit ton of Z-grade flicks from the 50s and 60s I’ve been obsessed with the Theremin since I was a small child. That’s been some thirty years at this point and though I’ve always loved the instrument, I think I’ve had very little idea what it was truly capable of until I heard The Night Terrors for the first time. Brown’s work with the instrument has pushed it into completely new territory for this writer, finally cementing it as an instrument which is undeniably hypnotizing as a main component of a band, proving once and for all some sixty years later that the Theremin doesn’t have to sound like a bad science-fiction movie soundtrack after all.
Melbourne’s horror dwellers The Night Terrors continue delving into the darkest recesses of the cinematic nightmare on second LP Spiral Vortex. Walking a tightrope between garishness and genuine tension, albeit in a lush Argento-esque fashion, the trio remain a potent force. Miles Brown’s theremin theatrics continues to amaze, while Damian Coward’s pummelling drums plays like an apocalyptic metronome. The key to Spiral Vortex’s success though is the synth lines devised by Brown and Sarah Lim – at once archaic and futurist (Lasers For Eyes), macabre and sensuous (Monster), with the slightest rays of light piercing through the darkness.
Miles Brown was on fire. Thanks to a thumping mix and vibed-up crowd, Miles brought an almost amphetamine-fuelled intensity to his electronics and theremin set. Waves of industrial arpeggiated synth grooves built and built until the crowd actually started moving, some despite themselves. It was euphoric, in its minor key, robots-have-stolen-our-future way.
Exo Records is good records. Night Terrors music is good music. TNT has a serious Goblin-vibe happening here. They could easily score a horror film set in American Apparel. I could picture tram-loads of Gentlewomen with the same body shape, clothes, opinions and haircuts walking around the racks in a zombie like state, just tripping on all the offensive colours and price tags. 10/10
There’s a plethora of records out now from a legion of labels revisiting the unsettling soundtracks to many a pulpy horror or science fiction film, and what The Night Terrors do is take this all of this as a base to build upon – and they do this in such a staggering fashion that they are almost a genre in themselves, such is the way that they occupy their remarkable niche.
If you want to play in a rock band without a singer you need musical ideas with the strength to carry the music. The Night Terrors have got it in spades….tracks from the new album “Back to Zero” are crammed with epic melodies, cinematic textures and and the even odd moment of sunshine. A truly original sound. I bought the album.
I put the CD on when I get home and when it reaches its conclusion, get up and press play again. It’s fucking phenomenal. Like the sound track to a video game made in the eighties but set in the future. A game of not just linear laser battles of light ships, but an involved personal account of the struggles endured by a character in just such a setting. A veritable space opera covering love, loss and thrilling light speed chase sequences that is exciting as well as all-enthralling. Don’t listen to this CD unless you have the time to sit down, absorb and fully enjoy it. The Night Terrors are my new favourite band. Back to Zero is my new favourite CD.
The Night Terrors’ debut full-length album Back To Zero introduces itself somewhat similarly to one of Goblin’s soundtrack releases or Jean Michel Jarre’s original Oxygéne record. Within seconds the listener is transported to a world created entirely by the Melbourne band’s synth, drum, bass and theremin combination – a place where wolves fly rocket ships protecting helpless planet folk from intergalactic volcanic eruptions (or any arrangement of associated descriptors)…The Night Terrors’ Back To Zero is a singularly impressive 66-minute album that should prove to be a success with any audience across the globe. 5/5