AnalogueTrash pres. Future Perfect, Promenade Cinéma & Voi Vang
The Castle Hotel, Manchester
21st January 2017
It was one of the coldest nights of the new year, and yet one of the hottest sets in Manchester I have been in for a long time – both literally, and sonically.
The Castle Hotel is, in my view, a well-suited location for electronica, especially old-school, the windowless gig room and wood surrounds adding to the intensity. The AnalogueTrash line-up of three electronic acts, plus a DJ, full of prospect.
First was Voi Vang, an upbeat electronic artist visiting from London. Despite her youth and singularity on the stage, this was not just music, but a performance with surprising presence. Rather than crunched over a keyboard, as tends to be the position of the lone electronic artist, Voi Vang travels the stage with interpretative and expressive dance.
Although dance on stage can come with the risk of detracting from the music, I feel Voi Vang’s style adds to the audience’s immersion in the sound. Power pop, with a sound a little like later Lady Gaga vamped up, lead to danceable tunes that avoid overt-repetition – ‘Stairway’ a particular favourite.
To follow were Promenade Cinéma, a distinct duo from Sheffield with brilliant baritone from Dorian and haunting harmonies from Blurred Girl, with plenty of keyboard action. They created some very danceable darkwave, a fair achievement given the size of the stage – and their cinematic synths soon had the audience moving.
Tracks such as ‘As The World Stops Revolving’ held an almost anthemic quality, ideally chosen for a gig environment, whilst ‘The Quiet Silently wait’ shows Blurred Girl’s skill in drumming and delivering dramatic lyrics. The effect of adding a drumbeat on stage, rather than using a pre-prepared machine, makes the music more intimate and lends the vocals a more guttural depth. It strikes at the emotions using dark melodies, undercut with hooks of synth; musical arrangements to make you think.
The acts were well-arranged, so that Voi Vang’s opening upbeat gave way to the tempting mystery of Promenade Cinéma– and that they were a duo following a strong solo artist actually served to accentuate their creative chemistry on stage, really to their credit.
Future Perfect were the final act of the night, adding an extra layer to the intensity with a backdrop of films and projection videos, professionally executed. The heat was rising amongst the crowd and the atmosphere positively electric, crackling even, with twisted beats something this duo seem to specialise in.
Combining lyrical darkness with deviant experimentation meant that their sound has a more in-your-face approach than the haunted tones of Promenade Cinéma, ending on satisfying floorfillers. Tracks such as ‘Hunter’ combat themes of cunning and entrapment with intense beats and blasts of synth, whilst ‘Paradise’ is a compelling soundscape rather than the straightforward positivity the title suggests.
The heat had risen all evening but electronica washed over in waves – synthwave, darkwave, touches of New Wave. It showed these genres still have so much to refresh us with. An electric 2017 it will be.