Winston and Goldstein is the electronic project of ex-Kins Jaqueline Collyer, who released the impressive In The Eyes of Another album earlier this year. Being a solo project, Collyer leaves herself a lot to do live, playing with synths, samplers, drum machines and guitars as well a delivering her own ghostly vocals.
She’s constantly ambitious. Opener ‘Really Go’ samples a train running across tracks to create an urban, nocturnal, deserted feel, not unlike Dirty Beaches recent work. It’s a really clever piece, the conclusion of which uses a chiming looped guitar to build dramatic tension to a drop that never comes. Closing number ‘In The Sea of Desire’ is also an easy track to admire. A looped vocal sample provides a shielding haze for a fractured, skeletal, eerie track to suddenly switch to a juxtaposed feel of blue sky and open fields via a mid song u-turn. It’s a rare break from the self imposed claustrophobia.
It’s not difficult to appreciate the thought process that goes into her work and she clearly has some great influences. However, live it’s difficult to love. As if to highlight this, the strongest five minutes by a distance is the immediate, narco-synthpop of ‘Ode To A Massive Obsession’, a track that sounds like a recently dug up old tape of an Erasure demo. That’s meant to be a compliment.
Shield Patterns – as one would expect from the headliner – are few stages further on in their development. Debut album Contour Lines is a fantastically crafted slice of dark-pop of varying degrees of accessibility, lifted by the vocal talents of Claire Brentall. This show really serves to highlight the songwriting talent that this duo possess.
The setlist picks from the highlights of the record in addition to two new tracks. All moods of the album are represented. The main set closer ‘Charon’ is an intriguing mix of industrial noise and dub, lent an otherworldliness by Brentall’s clarinet skronk, leading to a feeling of white-out, perfect for a last track of the night. These moments serve as an effective counter balance through the set to allow the more traditionally melodic songs space to shine. Set highlight is ‘Carve The Dirt’ with its memorable “Devil Is In The Detail”, repetition poking through the dense sonic murk. It’s amazing, for a band that tend to avoid choruses, how many little vocal refrains stick in your head, courtesy of Brentall’s clear voice and precise diction.
They clearly make an effort with the presentation, striving to highlight the creation of the sounds, rather than hiding behind laptops. House lights off, a pair of red lights produce an suitably austere atmosphere. Richard Knox – who handles the majority of electronics, beats and noise generation – cuts an impressive, confident figure; whether it’s his civilized swigging from a bottle of red wine or firmly but calmly admonishing a persistent talker before the encore.
The juxtaposition with Brentall’s less natural, reserved stage persona is unfortunate, and one which could perhaps be resolved by an acknowledgement of her star-of-the-show role, moving her set-up to the front-centre, rather than sharing space with Knox. Ultimately, it’s a minor criticism of a show at this seeing-the-whites-of-their-eyes level, but as the band progress to bigger venues – which they undoubtedly will – it could become a barrier to audience engagement.