I Speak Machine/ Hannah Peel/ Kite Base - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - 07/09/16

I Speak Machine/ Hannah Peel/ Kite Base – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff – 07/09/16


In a local live scene awash with guitar-orientated Indie and earnest folkie troubadours, it comes as a wave of cleansing musical revelation to encounter an evening dedicated to the joys of the synth

Billed as Troika! This is an event that features three of the current purveyors of analogue-driven enlightenment currently touring the UK’s club scene. Combining film visuals as a background to the aural treasures weaved in front of us. Headliners I Speak Machine have a background in providing soundtracks to low budget Horror/Sci-fi flicks and have an ongoing working relationship with Android wizard Gary Numan to boast in their digital armory. It’s this mechanised framework that beats at the heart of proceedings tonight.

Electronica is a movement that never fades. A constant pointer to futurism and its very fibre an open door to left-field possibilities. In the hands of tonight’s all-female ensembles, it unleashes itself in assuredly capable hands.

Openers Kite Base are a two piece (plus one male on a laptop) that feature Savages bass player Kendra Frost in her Electro guise. They slinkily pummel the attentive crowd with short propulsive post-punk dynamics with monochrome conviction. The duel bass interplay mixed with electronic beats heavily recalling ‘Power Corruption And Lies’ era New Order. They hold the throng in the palm of their hands with machine-like grace and by the time of closer ‘Da Dum’ they’ve got me moving along to their jagged but rolling motorik rhythms. One to definitely watch out for in the future

Next, an ethereal wash of sound suddenly engulfs the throng as Hannah Peel takes to the stage. Surrounded by banks of equipment and a live drummer, we are suddenly drawn into a wave of angelic ascension. The chromatic presence of the previous duo gently fading into the ether as the screen’s fill with poignant images of mountain landscapes and found vintage Super 8 footage. It provides the enigmatic framework for the hypnotic spell that Peel weaves.

Pulsing rhythms are accompanied by occasional viola bursts, all the while Miss Peel commands the stage with hypnotic and lilting grace. By the time she unveils a historic musical box, all are rapt with the childlike splendour, and otherworldly enchantment we’ve witnessed. If Stephanie Dosen decided to hook up in a soundclash with Bjork it might sound and look like this.

Dry ice drifts over the crowd and the screen suddenly light’s up with an entirely different flavour as we are alerted to the presence of I Speak Machine purveyor Tara Busch. Everything taking on a darker hue as the images on the stage switch to lo-fi horror! Not being a fan of the genre I try to avert my eyes to the archaic analog equipment unleashing the slowly building haunting waves of sound emitting. It quickly becomes apparent that we are in thrall to a John Carpenter style soundtrack. The off-kilter synths are redolent of Cabaret Voltaire as electronics are brought into focus with evocative vocalising that can’t help but bring to mind Goldfrapp‘s Alison, in a particularly dramatic frame of mind. It’s all very dramatic and occasionally gripping but the detached aura of everything can’t help but make me think that this may be a lot more suited to a formal art space rather than the sweaty intimate confines of a club venue.

Closing with barely recognisable covers of Simon And Garfunkel‘s ‘Sound Of Silence’ and a totally reassembled version of Numan’s ‘Cars’ it leaves a taste that is occasionally spellbinding but not entirely satisfying. Put into an exhibition setting I can see how this visual and aural performance would scale greatly.  Overall, though, a brave triumph of an evening, that gave all involved a glimpse into future possibilities that lay beyond the conventions of the guitar dominated Indie whirlpool.
Photo credit: Colin Bond

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.