A late change to the bill saw Meddicine, who did an excellent split album with the headliners a few years ago, replaced by Royal Limp, a band of some promise that seem to have spent much of their early career hamstrung by line-up changes. They continue to develop an effective set. Opening track ‘White Relief’ is charming, like rock and roll at half pace, with a spooky droning keyboard and a guitar symphony from Sealings man Michael. The penultimate and final tracks again feature some great guitar interplay while the keys play around them nicely. The songs are happy to stick to a hook and never feel rushed, which coupled with frontman Andy’s laconic, almost spoken-word delivery can’t help but remind you of the more chilled elements of The Velvet Underground’s back catalogue.
It’s been a while since we last reviewed The Soft Walls, during which time they played this writer’s favourite gig by a Brighton band last year, supporting Hookworms at The Haunt. Originally the solo project of Cold Pumas guitarist and Faux Discx label head Dan Reeves, the band came together around two years ago and have developed quickly. The two songs from their Trouble In Mind released No Time LP that they closed with would grace any set. ‘Guided Through’ has a magnificent chord progression underpinning it, with the band demonstrating how comfortable they are performing with each other now; guitarist Joe Tindall playing into his amp while Scott Reeve performs a very precise, controlled detonation of is drum kit. The following ‘Never Come Back Again’ is a kraut masterpiece; Dan showing off his psychedelic box of tricks, while the rest of the band are firmly locked down. First album highlight ‘Black Cat’ proves they can keep quiet and slow things down while not losing anything. Surely it can’t be long before they achieve a more national acclaim?
If the feature of the time spent since last seeing The Soft Walls appears to be gradual improvement, then Vision Fortune have undergone a radical overhaul since they last played in Brighton. Slimmed down from a 3-piece to a 2-piece, live drums have been dispensed with, the two brothers Alex and Austin Peru now playing two effects boards as well as auxiliary instrumentation. Despite this change in sound and instrumentation, what’s at the core of Vision Fortune remains, a breathtaking, wilfully experimental streak, while the bracing, migraine inducing strobe provides a physical link from old show to the new. Instead of the drone rock of debut album Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune we are presented with the post-punk influenced techno of recently released album of the year contender Country Music. It’s disorientating; their strangely mutated and fractured electronics bouncing off shrill and precise drum samples, inspiring the same confusion as the album. The brothers’ voices – an underused feature of their work – soar: disembodied, lost-soul, chanting, completely essential. They have a lot of the darkness and claustrophobia that made Liars such a treat around Sisterworld and WIXIW. The end of their short set is a double edged sword; relief that the sensory deprivation would end but a morbid fascination of where it and you might have gone during another ten minutes. Intriguingly dark music for confusing times.
Words: James McLarnon
Photos: Sandie Levent