Goods Yard, Brighton Station
In what is likely to become one of those music stories that fans love to tell, 18 months ago William Doyle, formerly of instantly forgotten indie band Doyle & The Forefathers, thrust a CD of his solo home recordings in the hand of John Doran, editor of The Quietus, at a Factory Floor gig in London. The songs on that CD were the first drafts of the now recently released East India Youth debut album Total Strife Forever, an album that is already being spoken of as a serious candidate for the Mercury Prize even at this early stage of judging period. Doran was so taken by the early sketches that The Quietus launched a record label to release his 2013 EP Hostel. The label was formed despite Doran regarding blogs-go-record-label expansions as “akin to withdrawing all your money from a cash machine and setting fire to it while simultaneously flushing your own head down a toilet filled with goat’s piss”. That’s how good these songs are.
It’s clear that Doyle has a voracious appetite for listening to great music of all genres. Indeed, the Guardian’s New Band of the Day review suggested Hostel should be filed next to Inner City, Camel, Derrick May and Can. If that makes Total Strife Forever sound like a nostalgic project then even on the most superficial of listens it clearly isn’t, with its razor sharp production bearing similarities to James Blakes’ Mercury winning Overgrown. It’s an album of such wide and varied scope that it is hard to believe it is the work of one man, taking us through the Berlin techno of Hinterland, the ambient Tim Hecker/Oneohtrix Point Neverisms of the suite of four title tracks labeled I to IV. Even the supposedly more straightforward pop of lead single ‘Looking For Someone‘ ends in a Fuck Buttons esque busted synth drone.
The ever reliable promoters Teen Creeps appear to have a potential “I was there” gig on their hands here as almost certainly given the immense quality of Total Strife Forever and an excellent reputation for live performance, it is highly unlikely that Doyle will be hanging around in venues of this size for much longer.
Support comes in the form of Jupiter C a London vocal electric duo who sound akin to St. Etienne bingeing on Salem records. Similar to the headline act they are making unconventional but arresting pop music.
William Doyle – aka East India Youth – found himself at one such crossroads after the break-up of his band Doyle & The Forefathers. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he used it as a catalyst, retiring to his bedroom and writing the songs that comprise early album-of-the-year contender Total Strife Forever.
If stage one was to complete and release a debut album of 11 wonderfully varied slices of intelligent, modern, electronic pop(ish) music, stage two had to be the live presentation. Surely he’d recruit a band to help him craft the gorgeous sounds of his debut album? No way: as witht the composition, success would be dependent on Doyle alone. To sayit’s a test that he’s passed would be a considerable underestimation of the quality witnessed at a packed and expectant Green Door Store.
The Bournemouth-born electronic musician slinked onto the stage to little fanfare – he seems the type that would be embarrassed by adulation anyway. Dressed in suit and tie, he immediately broke into album-opener ‘Glitter Recession’, a slow burner with building drones around a repeated keyboard motif.
It’s a smart move that allows Doyle to ease into his stride and told the crowd that, while this show might have the look and feel of a DJ set, it would be nothing of the sort. The proximity that the Green Door Store allows meant the crowd could immediately hear the effect of every tweak his synth and sampler work was having. Doyle was working extremely hard to craft his music.
There was a scurrilous rumour pre-show, born of a slot with British Sea Power at The Old Market last year, that Doyle’s voice left a little to be desired. This was made to look ludicrous within 10 seconds of ‘Dripping Down‘, the first of three songs – the others being ‘Looking For Someone’ and ‘Heaven How Long’ – that have genuine hit potential. His voice has more than a little similarity to Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys and his confidence – presumably enhanced by a successful and well attended tour – was further demonstrated the wonderfully memorable gospel-drone of ‘Looking For Someone‘. His two most popular songs down and over half the set to go.
Despite an outstanding start the Brighton audience, hard to please, still hadn’t loosened up. Doyle broke any remaining barriers, head banging and abusing his bass guitar through a breathtaking version of the Fuck Buttons-go-techno of album highlight ‘Total Strife Forever I’.
If the glitchy percussion and atmospheric synth work of ‘Heaven, How Long‘ was reminiscent of a more upbeat version of Thom Yorke’s The Eraser then it was re-enforced by Doyle losing himself completely in the song, in much the same manner as the Radiohead frontman. It was left to a speaker-busting ‘Hinterland‘, a tunnel vision techno track that wouldn’t be out of place in the Berghain at 6am, to close a gig that those in attendance will be talking about for some time. Doyle’s future now rests on retaining this intimacy of performance as the venues get bigger.
Openers and full tour support Jupiter C still have a lot to learn. They started promisingly enough with an intriguing Thurston-and-Kim-ness to the vocal interplay but all too soon it became clear that lumpen, stodgy beats would negate any interest the smart, shoegazy guitar work offered. The penultimate track offered a brief respite with a more interesting, vaguely hip hop flavour to a drum machine accompaniment. Moments of interest were vastly outweighed by the non-descript, however, ensuring that the bar was the most populated area during their set.
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