If you’ve ever frequented an instore performance, and if you find yourself trapped in this incomprehensible matrix of musical information then you most likely have, then you’ll be only too aware of how it is, broadly speaking, about the most problematic context within which to play. You’ve to contend with an early start time, on top of a potential apathy on behalf of casual rack browsers, plus the fact that people are far more likely to feel less emotionally involved in a show they’ve not invested in financially. A show is, in the crudest terms possible, something of a product after all – it’s explicitly transactional. All of these factors are of course softened by the fact that, and I quote forgotten ‘90s trip hop outfit Olive here, “you’re not alone”. But in the particular, at times peculiar case of East India Youth, née William Doyle, he very much seems it when seen solus, enshrouded though he may be in all manner of machinery.
Today marks the release of Total Strife Forever – William’s début full-length venture, and a remarkably marked product of this fair, if fairly exhausting city – and this evening therefore serves as a thinly-veiled celebration of sorts. The album was conceived of, composed and subsequently completed in the Docklands flat in which Doyle ensconced himself following on from the dissolution of former band, Doyle & The Fourfathers, hence the moniker. Although the Isle of Dogs is several miles away from Rough Trade East, and musically, East India Youth is more like a million removed from Doyle’s past endeavours. In short, he cuts a decidedly solitary figure onstage this evening.
But, in blurring a more band-oriented, and thereby organic approach together with the more electronic disciplines of, say, opener Glitter Recession, Doyle has architected a world of his own. It’s reflected in the fact that the bass guitar he’ll later smash and scratch at with an angered black heel shares equal space with an array of synths, on top of a MacBook, with not one force encroaching upon, nor cancelling out that of another. And in terms of the tracks Doyle selects from Total Strife Forever, those more song-based pieces such as an engrossing Dripping Down and an eternally striking Heaven, How Long are afforded ample room for manoeuvre in and around more introspective, electronically propulsive compositions. Whether that be a globular, obliterative Hinterland that compels the room to rumble and convulse, or the forlorn arpeggi of the aforementioned Glitter Recession – tonight rendered completely irresistible by a slight imperfection in Doyle’s playing style – the results prove overwhelmingly captivating.
For Doyle now embodies the very epitome of one-man-band conviction. And that he’s done so without compromising on a resolute conviction that organic and electronic instrumentation can be made to collide in such harmonious equilibrium is to a credit sought-after as gift vouchers redeemable in this very store.