People with encyclopaedic knowledge of 80s pop will have recognised that the evening, organised by my friend Charles Savoie and held in the atmospheric basement of The Victory on Kingsland Road, takes its rather original name from an obscure slice of synth-pop by Craig Sibley, and, courtesy of two DJ sets and two bands, a veritable smorgasbord of heady electro beats and hypnotic synth lines was served up, in the grand tradition of European cold wave, British industrial and, courtesy of yours truly, a quick flourish of motorik krautrock. Certainly there are few nights in the capital where such sounds can be heard without suffering the intrusion of gruesome, MOR pop in the Madonna/Jackson/Duran Duran mould, or some bland Primal Scream/Brit-pop rock, so I'm hoping (not just for my sake and that of a friend), that this is the first of many.
Certainly, the bands were worth seeing. All-female duo Replicas play a form of elegant, stripped-down and icy pop in the vein of The xx, early Gary Numan (think Dance more than the Tubeway Army album that gave them their name) and even a hint of Junior Boys, with dreamy twinned vocals, metronomic electronic percussion and deep, throbbing basslines. What the duo lacks in stage persona is made up for with their glacial beauty and detached vocalisings, and I wouldn't be surprised if they went on to be one of the next big things on the indie circuit. They certainly have the hooks. Check'em out here: www.myspace.com/replicasre
American industrial/synth performer Nurvuss will be an altogether harder prospect for the mainstream to take to its bosom, hence perhaps why I was particularly taken by Reaver M. Fulbrigh's set. Over chatteringly violent computer-generated beats, the American snarled, roared and sneered his menacing lyrics, propelled along by gritty, heavily-compressed synth lines. Nurvuss is much closer to the spirit of Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire than early Human League or OMD, and his edginess drove some punters back up to the ground-floor bar, but I for one was smitten, gleefully snapping my head from side-to-side under the onslaught. Another one to watch. http://www.myspace.com/nur
All in all, there is a lot of promise in You See Art, I See Clay, and the poor attendance was disappointing. Hopefully the next one will be better attended.
For me, despite the revelry, and the fact that I met some wonderful people (is there a nicer social group out there than the goths? I'm not sure), the highlight was the abbey. Bleak and foreboding, perched on a cliff-yop overlooking the town, it is no wonder they struck such a chord in Bram Stoker that he decided to set part of Dracula in Whitby. As I wandered around the crumbling colonnades and stared at the twisted features of ancient grotesques, I played the soundtrack to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu - Phantom Der Nacht on my iPod, for a truly awe-inspiring experience. The adjacent, more recent, church, with its cliff-top graveyard was also a great place to ponder one's thoughts, Heathcliff-like, in a windswept daze of melancholia, and, for all the fun I had drinking in pubs and meeting cool people, visiting Whitby will remain a truly spiritual (for want of a better word) and introspective memory for me.
Wow, this may be my shortest post in ages! I suppose it's one of the bloggy-er ones I've done, but I just felt these were sentiments worth sharing. Not sure why...
- J Phimister