Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Deerhunter @ London Scala 19/05/09

For Drowned In Sound

MP3: Nothing Ever Happened
MP3: Never Stops

Bradford Cox sure has a way of breaking down the unspoken formality of a gig situation. Whether telling a ten minute story about what happened in a bookstore on the way to the show, trying to beg, buy or barter rare band t-shirts from audience members, joking about online piracy, or, as he does tonight, relaying breaking news of arrests from the Black Lips tour and dragging audience members onto the stage for (two) renditions of "happy birthday", Bradford's high-speed chat is something to look forward to in itself. He comes across a pretty self aware, wired and witty guy, and it's easy to like him. There's a lot of the outsider icon about Bradford Cox, and it's inextricably tied into what makes Deerhunter quite so appealing.

But this comes two thirds into tonight's sold-out headline performance, after an uninterrupted 40-minute block of music from across the Deerhunter back catalogue. From a light, ambient introduction, they burst into a floor-shaking 'Cryptograms'. Reverb piles up, forming tight loops that skate over the swathes of guitar. Deerhunter's self-styled "ambient punk" tag has never made more sense than on an epic 'Lake Somerset' - the simple, chugging, bassline powers along the cavalcade of resounding noise that falls from Bradford's fingers, via an imposing pedal rack. Bradford's voice is often reverse-reverbed, coming into focus through a thick mist of effects, and giving an odd out-of-time lip-sync effect.

Deerhunter's swirling, enveloping sound is hypnotic and evocative. It operates on levels beyond what I normally expect to find in music. Inside the wall of sound that Deerhunter create, the tight little loops, echoes and repetitions form fractal patterns that dance around the mind and create a linger impression of something larger. All of that "shoegaze" echo and delay that some might treat as nothing more than a stylistic decision is here employed as an expression of the infinite. It's music the body and mind respond to instinctively, a direct kind of communication that bypasses critical faculties. This sound embeds itself on your mind like the midday sun does on your retina.

This band are the real fucking deal.

See them next at Koko in August.

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