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A Magazine for Sheffield

HENGE "Cosmic dross is an ancient sonic artform alien to your planet"

Four intergalactic beings continue their mission to bring joyous transmissions of 'cosmic dross' to the lifeforms that inhabit Planet Earth, with a date performing to the humans of Sheffield on 11 February. HENGE's Zpor told us more.

HENGE Spaceship

In the back streets of Kelham Island, during the heady summer of 2018, a most extraordinary event occurred.

Those lucky enough to be present bore witness to an invasion of sorts. Four otherworldly beings deployed a series of sonic experiments that saw a packed Yellow Arch crowd of misfits and magicians submit themselves, ready to receive important intergalactic messages.

Since then, subsequent events in the back room of the Greystones and outside of the Dorothy Pax as part of the Tramlines fringe event called Canal-Lines have established HENGE as one of the city’s most loved live propositions.

The band's incessant rave rock revelry, underpinned by outrageously theatrical sensibilities, never fails to deliver a joyous, communal experience. And they’re back once more.

Welcome back to Sheffield, Zpor! We’ve enjoyed seeing you a few times here. What brings you back to this part of the universe and how does it compare to your other excursions?

Thank you for the welcome, human! And allow me to offer my warm greetings to the readers of Now Then Magazine.

We find Sheffield to be a delightful little part of the universe. The human specimens of this region tend to have a tremendous sense of fun which is reflected both in the music and culture of the city, and in the charming way they talk and interact with one another.

The paramount reason that we keep returning to Sheffield is due to the conditions in this city being perfect for the successful transmission of 'cosmic dross'. This ancient sonic artform is alien to your planet. And so we are very interested in studying its effects on homo sapiens.

Previous experiments, including several in Sheffield, have shown that there are significant consequences to exposing human beings to our extra-terrestrial frequencies. So far, our observations include: the proliferation of joy; the clapping of hands and the raising of voices; an 87% increase in instances of smiling; ecstatic cheering and frolicking; an atmosphere of playfulness and many other outward expressions of glee.

We hope to use cosmic dross to help the humans of Sheffield in this way, as its benefits are evidently manifold.

Your album ExoKosm is a firmly established example of cosmic dross. Is there a particular message – subliminal or otherwise – behind it?

There is indeed a message contained within ExoKosm. We created this music to serve as a soundtrack to the search for a new home for humanity in space.

Alongside your search for new planets, you must also develop a new, healthy relationship with your home planet. This cradle of life you call Earth has been so generous to the human species, yet you have exploited her generosity without gratitude or care, committing gross acts of ecocide. You must strive to halt the rampant destruction of the environment, restore nature and cherish Earth's sweet atmosphere with every breath you inhale.

On Planet Earth you are vulnerable, not just to hideous climate disaster of your own making, but also to asteroid strikes, super-volcanoes, viruses… You must strive to spread out into space and develop habitations beyond the confines of your own planet. There is much work to be done to achieve this aim but humankind has the potential. Eventually, this precious Earth will be engulfed by the sun as the star expands and then dies. Therefore, ultimately, your future must be in space.

You are a consistently compelling and immersive live experience. How is it possible to maintain this time and time again?

As you may have gathered from what I have said so far, we have an important mission on Planet Earth. Therefore it is vital that each transmission of cosmic dross is delivered with urgency.

Moreover, we are besotted with this mysterious phenomenon called 'life'. Having travelled many times through the vast, lonely desert of interstellar space, it is impossible not to be filled with colossal amounts of joy to be here communing with the lifeforms that inhabit Planet Earth.

What’s it like spending so much time with your fellow intergalactic travellers? Are there any particular planetary rivalries or bad habits that have the potential to undermine the cosmic peace between you?

It is a great privilege to have such wonderful travelling companions as Goo, Nom and Grok.

Goo is from Venus, a planet that is no longer inhabited due to a catastrophic climate event called The Great Venusian Apocalypse. Four billion years ago we managed to save this singular Venusian specimen from that terrible event, and once on board he quickly discovered an affinity with the violent bass frequencies that power our spacecraft. He has since been delighting us with his manipulation of these so-called 'bass notes'.

Nom is a creature who I have known even longer than that. As some of your older readers might know, when friendships have a timescale of billions of years, often a telepathic shorthand develops. But Nom is also extremely effective at communicating through rhythms which he beats out via his many tentacles. The combination of his drumming and his telepathy make him an excellent companion and a real asset in our spaceship's musical laboratory.

Grok is a recent addition to our crew, yet he is a vital part of our mission on Earth. We first met him through the astral realm and then later in the physical realm where he guided us to a safe landing on your dangerous, militarised planet. This was a mere seven Earth years ago. And yet, we feel like we have known him for much longer. Grok is adept at manipulating synthesisers and since that first meeting he has been helping us to fine tune cosmic dross for human ears.

The only thing that undermines peace between the aforementioned creatures is that each band member has the potential to snore quite loudly. This does not matter when all four of us are in hypersleep. But it can cause problems when one creature drops off before the others.

How has the pandemic on this planet affected you? Have you experienced anything like it elsewhere In the universe?

This is not the first planetary pandemic we have witnessed and I'm sure it will not be the last.

As your readers will be aware by now, gathering together with humans is a special activity for us. However, we were able to take this unplanned break from touring your planet and made good use of this time in our musical laboratory, composing new works for the edification and entertainment of all humankind.

HENGE 2020 Banner

What are you most looking forward to in the near future and is there any more new music on the horizon?

We are very much looking forward to our imminent return to Sheffield where we will be transmitting the healing frequencies of cosmic dross to the human specimens who gather at The Foundry.

In addition to playing music from the ExoKosm and Attention Earth! albums, we do indeed have some brand new material to share with the blessed sapiens of Sheffield.

Following the Foundry, there’s some kind of happening at a venue called Sidney & Matilda. What’s all that about?

In order to appropriately mark our joyous return to this special city, we believe that the celebrations must continue long after our live transmission has been completed. And so we have teamed up with Sheffield Arts Lab for an official afterparty at which I, Zpor, will take on a plethora of the Arts Lab representatives for a DJ set that will go on til 4am.

Learn more

HENGE play the Foundry on Friday 11 February with an official afterparty hosted by Sheffield Arts Lab and the Dorothy Pax at Sidney & Matilda from 11pm.

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