VILE ELECTRODES + OPTIMUM OF THE UNIVERSE + DJ JAPHY – HASTINGS AND ST LEONARDS SAILING CLUB, ST LEONARDS-ON-SEA 21.12.18
With a couple of the Brighton & Hove News music team firmly encamped at the Concorde 2 in Brighton this evening, in order to report on proceedings at the Pop Will Eat Itself and the Utah Saints gig, I took the rare opportunity to have an away gig.
I knew exactly where I was heading, along the coast to St Leonards-on-Sea to a new venue located literally right on the beach virtually opposite the wonderful fourteen storey 170 ft high and 416 ft long Marine Court building. You know the building, it’s the Streamline Moderne architecture one that was built in 1937 and resembles the Cunard liner Queen Mary.
I was fortunate to park relatively near to tonight’s venue, the Hastings and St Leonards Sailing Club which was established in 1953. Within minutes I had admired Marine Court and arrived on the beach for tonight’s event, which was titled ‘Sailing Club Session 4’. So how did this all come about? Well like most great ideas, ‘The Sailing Club Sessions’ idea began life in a pub over a pint or two. A group of like minded friends, artists and musicians chatting about gigs they’d played, been to and promoted over the years, thought, “Let’s start a new night! And, more importantly, let’s make it happen in St Leonards so that we can all walk home afterwards”. It didn’t take long to find the venue located on the promenade overlooking the sea. It has a 150 capacity and a licensed bar and a small stage – It was perfect.
The first ‘Sailing Club Session’ took place on Friday 28th September and they have been running one a month ever since and have been put together by Justin Welch (Elastica, Lush, Suede), Darren Morris (Steve Mason, Ashley Beedle, David Holmes), Oliver Cherer (Dollboy, Cooler), Mew Welch (artist and former member of Elastica), Liz Maynard (The Bohemia Club, The Bohemian Magazine) and Greg Smart (artist and circus performer).
Tickets for tonight’s fourth instalment sold out within minutes of going on sale, which is a true indication of how successful the previous three outings have been. Tonight’s session was a synth led night of dark, weird Christmas partying, which was all stitched together by DJ Japhy, who cut his teeth on the Brighton dance scene back in the day of all night clubbing and walking home with the sun rising. His speciality style tonight was underground dance, mutant electro, deepest house and addictive techno.
Support tonight came from Optimum of the Universe, which actually was just one bloke called Thad Skews and his small keyboard. He certainly opened up a whole universe of weirdness this evening.
It was now time one of my favourite bands of the past decade – Viles Electrodes.
The Vile Electrodes are partners Anais (pronounced Anneese) Neon aka Jane Caley and Martin Swan. They have been performing fantastic music together as a two-piece for nearly eight years, and have released two albums (with a third hopefully due some time around September 2019) and eight EPs in that time, as well as playing regular live shows across the UK and Europe. They also recorded the video for their anthemic ‘Deep Red’ very near to where this evening event is being held. Watch it HERE. This tune has certainly stood the test of time as it has just been released on a brand new 34 track 2CD synth music compilation.
On their recorded output, their synths are dark and bleak, but often combine with insistent machine gun rhythms and spikey basslines, with layered, plaintive vocals that tell Ballardian tales of loss of both love and humanity. However tonight’s performance to me signalled a swing away from this darker sound. I have seen ‘The Viles’ many times in various different locations over the years and this evening they were a more dancey ravey affair with some really meaty synth sounds being thrown out. It felt like they had remixed their tunes into a harder, faster, clubby style and we all truly loved it!
Now I know Martin would say that as they have tons of equipment, (see it HERE) it would depend on what they could take to the venue in the space provided and so it would have to be compact and thus they would become dependent on the sounds that the chosen equipment could produce. However, I would like to joyfully report that there was thankfully tons of wires coming out of the electronic kits, the likes of which I haven’t seen since watching a tremendous act back in the day called Hard Corps – see what I mean HERE.
So ‘The Viles’ are flexible with their sound and their musical influences acknowledge modern electronic pop, but have as much in common with disco, acid-house, techno and intelligent dance music. There are moments that veer deep into Kosmische Musik and early electronic music. At other times it could be coldwave and industrial music, or Systems Music, minimalism and film soundtracks.
Something new to their set tonight could not be overlooked by anyone, namely two lasers a red one and a blue one, which ceremoniously bathed the audience in wonderful rays of light, whilst the smoke machine occasionally did its bit too. This seriously set the mood and tone during their terrific live set. If you love synth music from back in the day but with an updated feel, then the Vile Electrodes are most definitely for you!
I mean, I’m not the only one singing their praises, as they have toured with OMD, and played shows with John Foxx, Michael Rother (Neu/Harmonia), the Radiophonic Workshop, Jerome Froese (Tangerine Dream), Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra Tempel), Melt Yourself Down, Happy Mondays and The Orb. They also contributed music to the BBC Radio 3 production ‘Memoirs of the Space Women’. In 2014, their amazing debut album ‘The Future Through A Lens’ won ‘Best International Album’ and ‘Best International Artist’ at the Schallwelle electronic music awards in Germany.
Tonight’s setlist included:
‘The Red Bead’, ‘As We Turn To Rust’, ‘Damaged Software’, ‘Incision’, ‘The Quiet Ones’, ‘Empire Of Wolves’ and ‘Re-emerge’.
If you enjoy synth music like the Vile Electrodes, then the chances are that you will also enjoy the bands listed below. Simply click on each of the names and they will take you to our concert reviews on those bands:
Fröst, The Human League, Blancmange, The KVB, Digitalis, Battery Operated Orchestra, Halo Maud, Sextile, Gary Numan, Orbital, Pinkshinyultrablast, B-Movie, Covenant, AK/DK, Blue Hawaii, OMD, The Fin., Heaven 17, Austra.
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