Out of the void…
It’s a cold and grim evening as the winter weather begins to draw its icy fingers around town. Tonight sees the launch event for Bekimachine’s new album Another Atmosphere (see TEC review previously). The good news is that the venue of choice is a colourful and warm pub nestling in the heart of Stockwell. It seems like The Cavendish Arms should be a more regular spot for electronic gigs for a number of reasons (including the fact that they do food), but the fact that any venue is still holding on in a tough music environment is good enough.
With four acts performing tonight, it’s perhaps understandable that there’s going to be a few technical hiccups. But the slight delay in kicking things off is a minor quibble and solo performer FHUR gets things moving pretty fast. There’s a laidback and spacy aspect to her music, although the initial number seems to throw a nod to Human League classic ‘Being Boiled’ with a similar brooding rhythm.
New track ‘Scissors’ is a breathy effort, but also with some tougher, angular vocal effects. The brighter ‘Paradise’, meanwhile, revolves around a heavy use of reverb on the vocals and some dance rhythms (to the extent that it encourages Beki to step forward and have a little boogie before the stage).
‘We Just Wanna Have Fun’, which closes FHUR’s set, is a tighter, more dynamic outing with some effective electronic fills and a bolder, effusive vocal (“Alexa, turn off my feelings…”).
Meanwhile, AUW, the next act of the evening, draw from synthwave while also citing their inspiration via “decades of dystopian future visions and the inevitable takeover by our machine overlords” (or as we describe it at TEC HQ: “Mondays”). There’s certainly a sweeping quality to their music, which at times also employs some sleazy string synths and a vocal style that’s reminiscent at times of TR/ST.
At one point, Beki takes over vocal duties for an AUW remix of her own song ‘Crescent’. Here, there’s an energetic if dub-inspired backing with an impressive vocal from Beki. The set then switches up to a more dancepop affair with a quirky staccato vocal style. AUW close things out with a thumping, percussive number that seems to capture their intriguing sound in a perfect package.
Infra Violet (who have drifted onto TEC’s radar previously) serve up a muscular set of songs, lending their synthwave offerings a much rockier edge. Their style is boosted by Bethany Munroe’s dramatic vocals (mixed up with her also handling guitar duties for some numbers).
There’s a tightly wound grittiness to ’Grow’ which delivers one of Infra Violet’s best songs. Elsewhere, ‘Dream Tether’ (which the duo describe as “jazz synthwave” has a soaring, euphoric quality.
‘Take’ is a much heavier affair; a punchy offering that features some heartfelt lyrical musings revolving around a mantra of “Why did you take so much”. Infra Violet’s last song, ‘Easy’, is a more soulful number with an uplifting vocal and some solid guitar work from Toby Campen.
By this point, the venue has been steadily filling out, which boosts the atmosphere that the preceding acts have done such a great job in building up to. Meanwhile, the impressive DJ sets from Railway Alphabets also help to keep things moving between acts. That paves the way for the main act to finally take to the stage. Bekimachine’s set holds a rapt audience as she begins with some choral vocalisations and a few flute trills as an opener.
“Sing along if you know the words…” suggests Beki before embarking on a lush rendition of ‘Ethereal’. It’s one of the gems lurking on her impressive album Another Atmosphere, its science fiction trappings given an extra, otherworldly element by the vocal effects that pepper the song. Lines such as “I’m not lost when I’m with you” have a wistful power here.
Meanwhile, ‘Mecha’ presents a tougher, upbeat approach, “so I want to see you bopping along” suggests Beki, encouraging the audience. ‘Afterglow’, by contrast is a more chill effort enhanced with some sweet choral effects and a good use of reverb.
Then she delves into the Bekimachine back catalogue for ‘Ionheart’ which serves up a plaintive approach with its melancholic piano notes. “I’m on my own in this empty place” offers Beki as the song beefs up a bit and sees her really demonstrating her vocal chops.
Things take on a smoother direction with ‘The Void’, a warmer number which also pulls in some cathartic vocal elements. That mood is carried over in lush melodies of ‘Space Jellyfish’, “which I wrote on Twitch…” adds Beki.
The set also features more beats-driven numbers, such as the murmuring synths of ‘Colours’ and the ethereal moods of ‘Moonkissed’ to keep people on their feet. One of the set’s best moments is a sterling ‘Into The Dark’ whose plucked melodic delivery and subtle electronic effects connects with the audience (who are also singing along by this point). There’s also a choice of songs for the inevitable encore, which is won out by the emotive ‘Siren’.
At times, multi-band line-ups can deliver an uneven set of acts in which there’s some inevitable disappointment with some choices. But tonight’s selection have all brought something engaging and at times intriguing to their live performances (AUW, in, particular look like an act worth keeping an eye on). There’s also something of a community spirit here, bolstered in part by some cross-pollination care of remix duties between acts.
Bekimachine’s album, Another Atmosphere, was one that certainly stood out this year. But her live performances are also worthy of attention, particularly when she’s also bringing friends.
Another Atmosphere is out now: https://bekimachine.bandcamp.com/album/another-atmosphere