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Dead PixelsHuski
Russell Dean Stone
Dead Pixels

Tesco Disco @ Hedges & Butler, London
Wednesday April 18 2007

 


You know all that stuff arty bands like to come out with, about breaking down the boundaries between artist and audience? Well, here in the West End wine cellar that hosts Tesco Disco every Wednesday, that theory is put into practice, whether the bands like it or not. The room is small, the stage is low - band and crowd more or less mix in one random mêlée.

Dead Pixels seem to enjoy this scenario. They pitch in to their after-dark pop with good humoured grins and use the situation to pull the crowd in to the churn and swirl of the music. It's all, inevitably, highly informal, but that works well - when the keyboard player hits the wrong button on the laptop, and the entire song has to be re-started, it feels like it's all part of the show. Dead Pixels embrace imperfection like an old friend, but they conjure cool pop out of it, too.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Russell Dean StoneRussell Dean Stone appears to have listened to an Erasure album and thought, hey. I could do that! And indeed he can, up to a point. His songs are thunderous, driving, electropop anthems, controlled by an electro-boffin who stands, head-down and reticent in true Vince Clarke style, off to one side of the tiny stage. Russell himself, a puckish figure in distressed post-apocalypse clubwear, bounds around his three square feet of performance space with cheery energy.

It's all good poptastic stuff - but for the fact that Russell sings everything slightly, uncomfortably, flat. Given that all the songs are such rampant pop rinse-outs, every one of them dominated by a ruthlessly upfront vocal, there really isn't any way of disguising the fact that he's not exactly hitting the notes bang on the nose. Eventually, the off-pitch vocals drive me to the bar, but there's no escape. The stage sound is piped through to speakers in the bar area, and I'm just in time to hear Russell try for a dramatic vocal flourish...and miss by a mile. Ouch. Someone call Tona de Brett.

Huski is the latest in an apparently never-ending succession of bands featuring Melanie Garside. I know this because, over the years, I think I've seen most of 'em. Tabitha Zu, Zu, Our Lady Of Miracles, Vertigo Angels, solo excursions under her own name and as Maple Bee, plus stints in Queen Adreena and the Medieval Baebes - it's not easy being a Melanie Garside fan. You seem to spend half your time just trying to keep up with which band she's in this week.

I hope Huski turns out to have a bit more longevity than some of those previous projects, because the band's slicked-up electro-glam is actually rather good. Thumping along on an electro-drum foundation (the drummer Huskiwields his sticks like golf clubs, with an extravagant follow-through on every beat), boosted by down-in-the-basement bass and punctuated by guitar that alternately boils like glam rock stew and glitters like sonic sequins, Huski's music is what snake charming would sound like if Brian Eno produced it.

Swaying at the front, as if the music is passing through her like ectoplasm, Melanie Garside smiles to herself and unleashes that delicious wobble of a voice, the one common factor that unites her myriad musical tangents.

Huski seem so complete, so much the finished product, that I can't believe that this band will be another of her blink-and-you've-missed-it projects. Huski are good enough to all the way, and I certainly hope they stick around long enough to reach some sort of destination. But...just to be on the safe side, if you feel like catching 'em, make it quick, OK?

 

Essential links:

Huski: Website | MySpace
Russell Dean Stone: Website | MySpace
Dead Pixels: Website | MySpace

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

 

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  Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson.
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