Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Cave Singers, Bush Hall

Chandeliers, mirrorballs and plush velvet curtains adorn the muso's haven that is Bush Hall as tonight's nomads sit themselves down on the carpet with pinot grigio in one hand and their partner's hand in the other.Brighton's Sons Of Noel And Adrian open proceedings, the ten of them cramming themselves onto the tiny stage. Their music is orchestral, filled with glorious suspensions and incrementally building textures amidst a pounding beat and the same mysticality expounded by Beirut. The unusual vocals are a quasi-Elvis drawl/lisp, and the multi-piece display romanticism, choral timbres and a convulsing nautical beat. Next up is blues folk duo Congregation. Victoria Yeulet's yowl sounds like an oboe, at times making the songs hard to stomach – that eccentricity isn't enough, as the lack of vocal range makes the songs fuse into one another. The two-piece are so far away from the New Cross scene they originate from, but the music fails to impact. There's little interaction between Yeulet and guitarist/bass drum purveyor Benjamin Prosser, and it feels too focused, until the closing song, which sees Yeulet more relaxed and less 'heads down'. The act everyone's here to see is Seattle's The Cave Singers - they do not disappoint. Pete Quirk's post-folk vocals are brooding, nasal and entrancing. The set takes a trajectory of desolation - infectious harmonica, the right amount of between song chit-chat, and an unassuming soaring quality. The drumming is ferocious in parts, proving that power doesn't only come from supposedly 'heavy' music – and ex–Pretty Girls Make Graves bassist Derek Fudesco is the lynchpin to the versatility of the band's sound. It is difficult to pigeonhole, but if forced then the best way would be to recall Tapes 'n Tapes' 'The Insistor' without the hoedown. The vocals are haunting, and there's a sense of foreboding resolve in the hammering out of each of the very different songs. The set ends on a climax with 'Dancing On Our Graves'; maracas are hit on a synthetic instrument case, and the drumsticks on a metal board – The Cave Singers are on raucous form, and their dark yearnings are a welcome addition to the sane person's eyes and ears. By the time Japanese experimentalist Tujiko Noriko heads on stage, the room is half empty once more. Nonetheless, her and her laptop provide choral electronica - metreless, passive blips. Her avant-pop is at times spasm-inducing, and lies somewhere between Mogwai, Björk and Boards Of Canada – it'd be nice to have the foggiest idea what she was singing about.

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