Amelia’s Magazine | The Eccentronic Research Council at Village Underground: Live Review

Eccentronic Research Council and Maxine Peake by Laura Hickman

The Eccentronic Research Council by Laura Hickman

For the first in a series of events celebrating a century since Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo published L’Arte dei Rumori (The Art of Noises), his manifesto on “machine music”, cross-platform artistic collective Noise of Art had gathered together an eclectic mix of collaborators. Perhaps fittingly, the venue chosen was Village Underground, a former Victorian warehouse adjacent to a disused railway viaduct on the fringes of London’s East End – a symbol of the industrialisation that had originally inspired Russolo.

As well as a series of DJ sets covering electronic music old and new, there was a brief appearance from the ever impressive alternative all-female choir Gaggle. Kicking off a short set with a thunderous Gaslight, they then unveiled their very own app, the Gaggle Phone (which certainly puts the tone into ringtone!). As has become custom whenever I’ve seen them perform, Gaggle finished with their album closer, the mournful Leave The City, with the various members departing the stage in groups as the music played out.

Eccentronic Research Council by Nadine Khatib

The Eccentronic Research Council by Nadine Khatib

The most anticipated part of the night, though, was the appearance of headliners The Eccentronic Research Council, playing their first show in the capital. Formed by two veterans of the Sheffield music scene, Dean Honer and Adrian Flanagan (who have, in the past, collaborated with such luminaries as Jarvis Cocker and Philip Oakey), they enlisted the considerable talents of actor Maxine Peake (most recently seen in the BBC period piece The Village) and released a concept album, 1612 Underture, based on the infamous Pendle witch trials of the 17th century.

The story of the Pendle witches looms large in the popular psyche of Lancashire (much like Pendle Hill itself, a distinctive feature on the skyline overlooking Burnley) – from the coaches on a bus route from Manchester named after each of the accused to Live At The Witch Trials, the debut album by The Fall, who just happened to be playing across town tonight (a band that, in a curious twist, Adrian Flanagan was once briefly a member of). With 1612 Underture, The Eccentronic Research Council recount the tale through a partly fictionalised, often witty modern day road trip (brought to life in an accompanying short film), which also touches on contemporary social parallels.

A full house cheered as the band appeared – Honer and Flanagan, the self styled “practical electronics enthusiasts”, took their place at the back, behind a table loaded with vintage analogue synths (and kept company by two imitation skulls), whilst on other either side and dressed all in white, like extras from the finale of the Wicker Man, Philly Smith and Lucy Cunsolo provided extra keyboards, percussion and vocals. Most definitely centre stage, however, was Maxine Peake, attired all in black.

Eccentronic Research Council with Maxine Peake at Village Underground by Sam Parr

The Eccentronic Research Council by Sam Parr

The set opened with the steady motorik of Autobahn 666, a Kraftwerk referencing ride along the A666, the so called Devil’s Highway that connects Manchester, Bolton and Blackburn, that Peake narrated with her rich Boltonian tones. This set the mood for much of the rest of the night, with otherworldly synths alternating between bouncy, burbly and just plain sinister acting as a soundtrack for Peake, a dominant presence, to recite from her little black book. Philly Smith and Lucy Cunsolo took over for Wicked Sister Chant, whilst another Sheffield colleague, Lucy Hope, took the stage for The Hangman’s Song (naturally enough, with a noose adorning her neck). Flanagan left his gadgets momentarily to duet with Peake on Another Witch Is Dead, probably the sort of song Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra would come up with if asked to score a film for Hammer studios (though I doubt Ms Sinatra could cackle quite so maniacally as Maxine Peake does at the song’s end).

Eccentronic Research Council by EdieOP

The Eccentronic Research Council by EdieOP

Not all was doom and gloom, and there was a fair bit of banter from the stage. Adrian Flanagan asked the audience if anyone was from Lancashire (being Salford born himself), but when he was overwhelmed by replies, he just gave up and joked “just shout random places at me!”

The core trio of Flanagan, Honer and Peake returned for an encore, the rather unseasonal but reassuringly acerbic Black ChristMass, which descended into an electro wig-out before they departed the stage for the last time.

With a London show now grudgingly under their belt, The Eccentronic Research Council headed back North once more and, with new material a current work in progress, we shall wait to see where their analogue odyssey takes them next.

Categories ,Adrian Flanagan, ,Dean Honer, ,EdieOP, ,Futurism, ,gaggle, ,Hammer studios, ,Jarvis Cocker, ,Kraftwerk, ,Lancashire, ,Laura Hickman, ,lee hazlewood, ,Lucy Cunsolo, ,Lucy Hope, ,Luigi Russolo, ,Maxine Peake, ,Nadine Khatib, ,Nancy Sinatra, ,Noise of Art, ,Pendle, ,Philip Oakey, ,Philly Smith, ,Sam Parr, ,sheffield, ,The Eccentronic Research Council, ,The Fall, ,Village Underground, ,Wicker Man

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Amelia’s Magazine | Cate Le Bon at Village Underground: Live Music Review

Cate Le Bon by Sam Parr
Cate Le Bon by Sam Parr

The seemingly ever present rain was holding off as I made my way up Commercial Street, past the facade of of shiny new shops and crumbling Victorian architecture where the schizophrenic fringe of the East End blurs and the City and Shoreditch collide. I’d just been to an in-store gig by Allo Darlin’ at Rough Trade East and was en route to one of the newer venues on the block (well, in this part of town), Village Underground.

Cate Le Bon By Joseph Joyce
Cate Le Bon by Joseph Joyce

Inhabiting a disused railway arch and adjacent warehouse, and adorned with recycled former Tube carriages, it’s a curious setting. I’d been here once before, for some of last year’s Stag and Dagger festival, but the acoustics in the main hall had proved to be a bit of a let-down. Tonight, though, the main event was occurring in a smaller side arch, a much more intimate setting for the dark riches we were about to enjoy.

Cate le Bon by Gilly Rochester
Cate Le Bon by Gilly Rochester

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A former protégé of Super Furry Animals main man Gruff Rhys, I’d seen Cate Le Bon a couple of times in the past, most recently at last year’s Camden Crawl. I’d been smitten with her debut album, the psych-folk tinged Me Oh My, and she was back braving the elements to launch her follow-up, CYRK.

Cate Le Bon by Avril Kelly
Cate Le Bon by Avril Kelly

Bathed in red light, and with suitably weird images projected on to the wall behind her, Le Bon took to the stage with her band. Dressed in black and with guitar in hand, she kicked off the set with the off-kilter waltz of Julia, which then segued straight into Fold The Cloth. That bewitching, lilting voice juxtaposed with the way she attacked her guitar during solos kind of sums up the music on CYRK – the unexpected is always around the corner. The majority of the set was a run through of the new album, including the chugging Falcon Eyed (imagine if the StrokesLast Nite had been written in Cardiff), the introspective The Man I Wanted and the unsettling Greta (complete with eerie trumpet fade out).

Cate Le Bon by Sarah Jayne
Cate Le Bon by Sarah Jayne Morris

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A couple of older songs popped up as well, with Le Bon moving to keyboards for the woozy riff of Eyes So Bright, before the set closed with CYRK’s own finale, the gentle first part of Ploughing Out building to a full on freak out that raised the hairs on the back of the neck. The cheers of the crowd brought on the encore, before which an apparently ill Le Bon wryly remarked that she’d managed to get through the set without being sick. She then took up the keyboards for Camelo, backed only by a disconcerting animation on the wall behind her, before the rest of the band came out for a romp through Ole Spain, a cover of über-obscure (even by my standards!) early 80s New Wave band Hamsters.

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With CYRK hitting the shops, and a short European tour supporting Perfume Genius in a couple of weeks, now’s the ideal time to get to know this beguiling talent.

Categories ,Allo Darlin’, ,Avril Kelly, ,Camden Crawl, ,Cate Le Bon, ,CYRK, ,folk, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Gruff Rhys, ,Hamsters, ,Joseph Joyce, ,Me Oh My, ,Perfume Genius, ,Rough Trade East, ,Sam Parr, ,Sarah Jayne Morris, ,Stag and Dagger, ,Strokes, ,Super Furry Animals, ,Village Underground

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Amelia’s Magazine | East India Youth at the Sebright Arms: Live Review

East India Youth by Sam Parr

East India Youth by Sam Parr

2014 had proved an eventful year for East India Youth, otherwise known as William Doyle. His debut album, Total Strife Forever, received glowing reviews and popped up in assorted mid and end of year lists (the Guardian and Quietus included). There was also the Mercury Prize nomination, where he found himself on an unusually strong shortlist, along with assorted support slots and festival appearances.

The bijou basement venue at the Sebright Arms, a rejuvenated old East End boozer tucked away just off Hackney Road, was a bit of a contrast to the last venue I’d seen East India Youth at, namely the rather cavernous environs of Heaven. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tonight’s show sold out well in advance, and the room was already buzzing by the time Doyle came on stage.

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As the ebbing electronic washes of Total Strife Forever I got us under way, and with barely a pause for breath, the rather dapperly dressed East India Youth gave us a mix of old favourites and a few tasters from the upcoming Culture Of Volume album. Bobbing away behind his keyboard in the glare of the stage lights, whilst occasionally bashing away at a drum pad, fiddling with the settings on his laptop and even strapping on a bass guitar, he ploughed through the likes of the dance floor filling behemoth Hinterland, and took to the mic to for the plaintive vocals of Dripping Down. New track Turn Away got an airing, a resolute synth pop classic in the making, whilst another new one, Carousel, closed the set. Doyle came away from his gizmos to a solo mic stand for this one, and the song’s eerie, almost ethereal synth intro reminded me of a stripped back version of OMD’s Souvenir.

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For the inevitable encore, Doyle came back on to cheers for a rendition of early single Heaven, How Long – it’s slow build up towards a pumping electro finale providing a fitting climax to the set.

East India Youth now heads out on tour and, following the release of Culture Of Volume in April, will return to London in June to play Village Underground. On the strength of the tracks previewed tonight, it looks like East India Youth has most certainly come of age.

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Categories ,East India Youth, ,heaven, ,Mercury Prize, ,OMD, ,Sam Parr, ,Sebright Arms, ,The Guardian, ,The Quietus, ,Village Underground, ,William Doyle

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