Home | About | Live | CDs / Vinyl / Downloads | Interviews | Photos | Archive | Links
Email | LiveJournal | MySpace | Last FM

Sixteens signSixteens
Eve Black/Eve White
No Kisses

Brave Exhibitions @ Bardens Boudoir, London
Sunday September 28 2008

Sunday night in Stoke Newington, and I smell art in the air. Brave Exhibitions is a club devoted to the new and the left-field, the intriguing and the out-there. How you'd classify the three bands featured at this event I'm not too sure, but one thing is certain: the reassuringly familiar landscape of rock 'n' roll will be interestingly distorted tonight.

No KissesTwo men and a keyboard in black, and a laptop in corporate Apple silver. That's No Kisses, the evil twins of the Pet Shop Boys. And that's not a throwaway comparison - there's something oddly remeniscient of Messers Tennant and Lowe in the detachment of the keyboard player, and the equally deadpan showbiz-isms of the singer. His bouts of disco dancing are at once parodic and strangely appropriate, for while No Kisses make a starkly minimalist elektro-stomp, there's a certain pop sensibility in there somewhere. It's a bit like finding an unexpected box of ice cream at the back of the freezer, under layers of hard-packed ice. Underneath all that expressionless nihilism, there's a definite hint of a poppy groove. No Kisses don't want to brush lips, but they might just pinch your bum.

Did I mention minimalism? Well, here comes a band that is more minimal than most. Eve Black/Eve White have been a little quiet of late, as the Eves' other band, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, soaks up time and gig-ops. But behind the scenes it seems that things have been moving, because tonight's set includes new material. It's a slight relief to know that the essential aesthetic of Eve Black/Eve White - two voices and electronics, combining to create an uncannily rich electro-punk-soul stew - has not been changed (I had a Eve Black/Eve Whitenightmare vision that the band was going to come back with a string section, or three guitarists, or something) and the other-worldly emotion of the vocals is still hard-wired to the kind of stripped-down click and rumble of electronics that you could imagine Kraftwerk making, if they had come out of post-punk Britain.

Suddenly, the stage is festooned with keyboards and guitars and effects pedals and miles of wires: ah, yes, this must be the Sixteens, two humans amid a web of technology, and who's to say if they're the spiders or the flies?

With a clonk and a clang they're away, the band's left-field sound-as-art approach never once getting in the way of an insistent beat and a nagging pull in the direction of the dancefloor. The Sixteens have the ability to nail a beat to your feet even as they get weird on your head, and it's this combination of the visceral and cerebral - the rhythm and strangeness, the groove and the mess-with-your-headism - that makes the band the coolest cats in the art-rock cattery.

Kristo Bal switches between guitar, vocals, keyboards and ever so slightly disturbing dance moves, attired in a blue swimsuit and beehive hat, as if she's recieved a last minute invitation to a fancy dress beach party, and she's improvised an Amy Winehouse outfit in five seconds flat. This is the world of the Sixteens, and this is normal. Meanwhile, Veuve Pauli, hemmed in by synths, does the frowny electro-boffin thing amid the wires and black boxes...aside from those occasions where he takes a vocal, and suddenly becomes animated and downright scary, hollering into the mic as if someone's just slipped him a slug of disco vitriol. 'Crystalline Saturate' is a neo-krautrock freak-out, but it's when the band pitch in to 'For Rent' - and they're certainly playing the extended mix tonight - that the joint gets a real jump on. And there we have the peculiar genius of the Sixteens: their ability to bestride the divide between weirdo and disco with such an air of why-the-fuck-not that you won't even know when you cross the line.

Essential Links:

Sixteens: MySpace

Eve Black/Eve White: MySpace

No Kisses: MySpace

Brave Exhibitions: MySpace

For more photos from this gig, find the Sixteens by name here.

Home | About | Live | CDs / Vinyl / Downloads | Interviews | Photos | Archive | Links
Email | LiveJournal | MySpace | Last FM
Back to top

  Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson.
Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston, Red N version by Mark Rimmell.