The Waiting Room, London
Thursday July 11 2013
Something electronic is stirring under a pub in
IFA Electronics have set out their stall - almost literally. The band (if they are a band) comprises two blokes standing behind a table full of gear, which they prod and tweak and adjust at intervals while a fizz and shudder of electric noise fills the air.
I don't know if it's
all being improvised on the spot, or whether there are structured songs,
of a sort, in there somewhere. One of the blokes is Ryan Ambridge, previously
of Linea Aspera, who were synthpop songsmiths of some standing. He's certainly
taken a step into left field with this project. Sonic art, it seems, straight
from the worktop
of the electronic kitchen.
If IFA Electronics stand behind their gear, Jack Duckworth - the sole proprietor of Soft Riot - puts himself at the centre of his technology. He cuts a slightly beleagured figure, sitting amid piles of machinery, wires festooned all over the place. It's as if the hardware is ganging up on him. But, somehow, he wrestles his appliances into submission, and a fuzzy, throbbing, early-Cabs, neo-Eno sound emerges from the kit pile.
The Soft Riot ouevre zig-zags from ambience to danceable beat-based excursions, and although there's nothing so conventional as an instant floor filler in there, it would probably only take a remix or two to haul Soft Riot onto the dancefloor. That song with the synth line that sounds oddly akin to Europe's 'The Final Countdown' could be a good candidate for the makeover.
But I suspect Soft Riot would resist any such move towards the mainstream. The machines would probably mutiny.
a name which looks enticingly techie and intellectual at first glance, actually
Hungarian. A deadpan joke on non-Hungarian speakers (which, let's
face it, is going to be most of the world), and possibly a hint that the band
won't be entirely po-faced about their art.
All of a sudden, we make that move towards the dancefloor that the previous two bands steadfastly resisted. For Női Kabát are a synths 'n' drums outfit who are entirely at home with The Beat. The organic pummelling of the drum kit drives the songs forward with an implacable energy, while phat swathes of electro-noise circle like radar sweeps. Over all this a vocalist emotes tremendously, like all the best bits of Marc Almond and Dave Gahn combined into one human being.
Now and then it all goes a bit Giorgio
Moroder: sequences stutter and the drums box their ears. , but there's always
that clear, swooping vocal out front, nailing Női Kabát's
essential identity as the rhythms hammer away.
Weirdly, the big finish, in which the synth-controller chap suddenly produces an angle grinder and a sheet of metal and does that stream of sparks thing, looks oddly awkward. It's a bit of a dated gimmick - very mid-90s, very Mutoid Waste Company - and coming as it does at the climax of a set of robust, barrelling synthpop it looks bizarrely out of place.
Női Kabát don't need to employ this kind of trick, not when they're so good at making a noise like a mash-up of Fad Gadget and LCD Soundsystem falling downstairs in a barrel. Never mind the stunts, gentlemen. The music's good. Let it do the work.
IFA Electronics: Facebook
For more photos from this gig, find Női Kabát by name here.