We could, even at this early juncture, veer off on a whimsically prolix tangent as to how bloody freezing the streets of EC2 are tonight. It’s often our wont anyway, right? Though this is one on which it feels only meet and right to break with convention, and converge upon a more concentrated reflection of what is, as far as our more current recollections stretch, one of those most cohesively inspiring evenings.
Up first is William Doyle, aka East India Youth, aka the first artist ever to have been signed to the Quietus Phonographic Corporation. If that act of putting pen to paper doesn’t heap a whole load of hype on you then nothing will, and while the moniker may sound like the prevaricating tale of some fabricated stowaway clan wearily voyaging over Southeast Asia, Doyle compiles something of a studied encyclopaedia of thirty-odd years in electronica only to condense it down to thirty-odd minutes that evaporate all too efficiently.
His set composed of a cerebral six, he effectually illustrates the enduring synergy between man and machine, only occasionally incorporating live bass – a mediator of sorts between these two contrasts. Thus Kraftwerk come to represent a formative influence, as indeed does minimal techno magnate, Richie Hawtin as gloopy bloops begin to coagulate about his jejune vocal which is looped ad infinitum, right from the earliest exchanges. Frivolous glimpses of early Depeche Mode ensue, whilst Doyle calls upon the frantic erraticism of Liars at times and even the glum operatics of Laibach at sporadically suffused others.
Doyle himself is something of a Cumberbatch-alike, albeit one with a penchant tonight made explicitly patent for the transcendent organic/ electronic dichotomy contained within Clark’s Iradelphic. A gloriously underdone Heaven, How Long lucidly emphasises all this and more, as it crackles and spits prior to crumbling into the tinny techno crank to follow. Lifted from the forthcoming Hostel EP, the collection sounds to have been adorned with some wondrously refined melodies in amongst the clear reference points and may yet prove to be one well worth shacking up inside once released. And although he may play onstage veiled by a defiant sense of solitude, there’s some rampant vibing going on off it as a track evocative of Blanck Mass on a gritty mote of speed bubbles over into irrepressible euphoria. For Monday, it’s no mean feat and as he slams his MacBook shut to some incongruous frat boy chanting down the front, he salutes in recognition of a job well done.
And as I say, it’s rare that a night out ever seems to all fit together this well, nor to quite so consistently compel as much as it challenges. Trailblazing, newly relocated Warpsters Darkstar are of course the sorts to define, and indeed continually redefine such terms, and they in turn attract a nicely prismatic slice of societal cross-section which they hold ravished and enraptured from the ominous opening strains of their Intro. As this abates to allow for a disorientatingly grizzly take on News From Nowhere track Armonica to emerge, lead vocalist James Buttery continues to contort his figure like driftwood caught on the cusp of the shore. It throbs with every ripple of Aiden Whalley’s restive synths, as though they browbeat it to keep moving to a nonexistent music.
He does so to Gold – the expertly grubby, and quietly soulful standout from their Hyperdub days of yore. Hands raised to his ears, he feeds off the fever it so immediately provokes and although not exactly almighty (he claims to have already been made all but entirely deaf by his enduring endeavours in their dark and dub-tinged ambiences, thus it’s perhaps not such a bad thing for the reaction to be that little bit restrained), as chins are stroked and depilated heads bob our gratitude becomes as blatant as Amplified Ease is brilliantly nonchalant.
A meticulous stitch of Pablo Díaz-Reixa repetitions and the loose precisions of Animal Collective’s Centipede Hz, it floats insouciantly atop a toss of heady bass and baggy swagger, before being swept away by the Balearic undercurrents of Young Heart’s. Freckled with a creeping gloom, it’s bedevilled by improvisational manipulations of static-addled feedback, as the trio achieve a somehow organic aesthetic via the purely electronic – another irrefutable leitmotif of the musics of El Guinco, as well as AnCo. Then turning carnivalesque and clunky in its lattermost moments, Darkstar come to burn as the closest we Britons have yet come to the irradiant obscurity of When Saints Go Machine. And such is its allure that as it begins to dwindle, they’re rightly showered with the dismembered bits of an artificial bouquet.
The woozy balladry of A Day’s Pay For A Day’s Work – evocative as much of a mucked out Pet Sounds as it is of Sébastien Tellier’s Sexuality, or Once Upon A Time In The West – would perhaps be better suited to the flinging of faux hyacinths, and it is in these most tender of minutes that the trio show themselves to be supremely finely attuned to one another. They’re all operating on that same wavelength, and it’s one indubitably worth the riding. Though it’s the night’s glistering endpoint, Hold Me Down, which sees the London outfit at their most effective: spattered with strobe for the very first time, it’s that bit more immersive than anything to have gone before it; the climactic apex at which it all comes to a head before they slink off, the remainder of the plasticky posy flamboyantly hurled on over. Buttery grits a stalk between his teeth, and they’re gone though sweeter and more sizeable florets surely await them and their pressing News From Nowhere.