Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seefeel, Visionair - Button Factory

"It’s probably been said before, but considering all the bands who’ve reformed lately and basically performed guided tours of their back catalogue, it’s refreshing to see an act like Seefeel who all-but ignore the sound that they made their name with in favour of exploring a completely different avenue. The vibe among The Button Factory crowd seems to be one of curiosity rather than anticipation, but if anyone came expecting Seefeel to dip into influential records like Quique they would have been surprised at how the show pans out tonight.

VisionAir are on supporting duties, and just as with the recent State VS Roisin Dubh night in Galway, their set pulses and swells with absorbing, sci-fi-tinged synth-tones. Tracks from their two EPs take on an extra muscular, propulsive quality in the live setting, with the subtle tempo changes and shifts ensuring attention never wavers. Their finest creation, ‘HYPNOM’, seems to get better every time you hear it, an atmospheric, perfectly layered track that gives way to a hypnotic climax with shades of New Order circa Power, Corruption & Lies (specifically ‘Blue Monday’ prototype ‘586’).

Seefeel were once memorably described as ‘wombadelic’ by then-Melody Maker writer Simon Reynolds, reflecting their distinctive sound, which transposed MBV-esque guitar lines and effects onto ambient techno/IDM-influenced rhythms. Wombadelic is not an adjective that comes to mind tonight, though: bolstered by new band members Shigeru Ishihara (aka DJ Scotch Egg) and Iida Kazuhisa (E-Da) – the former a renowned noise artist and the latter a former Boredums drummer- their live sound is harsh and often grating. Ishihara’s bass-lines dominate the mix, as the band pursue repetitive, scuzzy, enveloping grooves. Sarah Peacock’s vocals seem more like a superfluous addition to the mix, as opposed to the textural underpinning they once provided. It could be called indulgent (at times the band seem to be enjoying themselves more than the audience) but for long stretches we’re taken by it, even if the crowd reaction in general is a divided one. There’s almost an underground-warehouse vibe about the show; with The Button Factory being far from capacity tonight, this arguably would have came across a lot better in a smaller venue or tighter space. It’s perhaps no surprise that there’s no encore: Seefeel aren’t making concessions to expectations or to their own past, choosing instead to pursue their current vision. For that you have to admire them."

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