Nathan Fake
O2 Academy, Bristol
Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Nathan Fake proves that he’s more than worth an opening slot for Orbital. Bert Random tells us more.

The backing music faded to nothing, blue light bathed the stage, and a strange sound descended from on high, down through the frequencies, swirling around the still half-empty dancefloor at the Bristol O2 Academy. Crouched behind his sparse kit – a laptop and a box – Nathan Fake slowly rose to standing as the noise thickened and an angular beat dropped in. It was a relatively low-key entrance from the former wunder-kid, who was just 19 when his first single, ‘Outhouse’, was signed to the Border Community label and broke big into the world of glitchy, ‘intelligent’ dance music. He’s grown and honed his sound through two albums prior to the most recent one, ‘Steam Days’, and it’s become a confident sound, happy to take its time layering enough different tones to develop a beguiling character, with drums that land just about time with the squall that surrounds them.

 

Tunes like ‘World of Spectrum’ are part-comforting, part-discordant, with sweeping washes of sound and hopeful high-notes competing for dominance. Occasional acidlines emerge, only to be tweaked up beyond human hearing, creating their own rhythms that butt up against drum patterns that are in 4/4-time even though they don’t really sound like it. I love the stuttering breakdowns, where the component parts of the tracks are laid out before us like a dissection of a still-twitching frog, and the fact that songs that somehow feel gentle when recorded have become harder and heavier live, with the sporadic plummets to the bottom of the bass-bins shaking the gathering crowd through to the soles of their trainers.

As the set reaches its climax Fake is dancing so hard behind his pile of electronics he’s practically head-butting the laptop screen, working at keeping it all on time, fighting to stop the structure from slipping out of his grasp. It’s a hard room to win over – the anticipation for headliners Orbital is palpable among the audience (a weird mix of… shall we say, older ravers, and earnest young students) – but Fake does just enough to draw us in, ending with a song that sounds like three different tunes having a fight to the death in a record-bag. He reminded me of a hyperactive Herman & Kleine, a German duo from a decade ago, who had a similar emotional thread through their melodies, and this emotion was enough to make the crowd warm to Fake and the effort he put in to stretching the clicks and the glides as far as they would go.

Check out Nathan Fake on Facebook, on tumblr, and Soundcloud.

All words by Bert Random. More writing by Bert on Louder Than War can be found here.

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