I wrote a couple of days ago about being a bit moody at the beginning of the week. Thank you for bearing with me, if you read that, ’cause here is the story of a Thursday evening – a day that is a way more cheerful, with the weekend just around the corner. Sebright Arms, in the heart of East London, hosted last Thursday one of its finest nights, with indie excellences from all over the UK and Europe. Guess who was there? I was there, of course.
Dark Dark Horse are a duo comprising of James and Jamie, from Leicester. Their music caught my attention a few months ago, when their first offerings in three years (since 2014’s album Centuries) came out under Little Fanfare. The duo worked on an EP – ‘Luna II’ – which in all honesty was one of the best thing I came across in 2017, as a combination of introspective synth-pop with hints of lo-fi.
Their support slot at Sebright Arms is the ideal occasion to get to listen to them live, so I am down very early, looking forward to their set. Here comes the surprise: Dark Dark Horse live are somehow mind-blowing. ‘All In Spirals’, ‘Into The Night’, not to mention their latest single, ‘And Then We Had Nothing At All’ are an explosion of sounds and beautifully conceived melodies that blend together euphoria and more melancholic vibes. Brilliant.
J F L E follows shortly after. It’s a totally unknown project, to me, led by South London’s Joseph, whose initials, he explains, inspired the name for the outfit. His music is what I would define poignant eclecto-pop. It’s soaked in soundscapes that blend synths and drum machines with sharp bass lines and Joseph’s intricate lyricism (‘Guess My Age’, what a banger!). J F L E’s set grows slowly and culminates in a noisy and sharp deflagration of echoed sounds. My “ones-to-watch” list keeps growing…
It’s nearly half past nine, when Swedish HOLY take the stage. The main act is a Stockholm-based project, and behind its moniker is singer-songwriter Hannes Ferm, who started making tunes in his bedroom-studio, taking the idea of his idiosyncratic psych pop to the next level. HOLY’s debut album – 2015’s ‘Stabs’ – was a critically acclaimed breakthrough. Its follow up, the much-awaited ‘All These Worlds Are Yours’, was released no longer than a couple of weeks ago.
Sebright Arms’ eyes are all on Hannes and the band on stage, who electrify the atmosphere with tangled psych pop that draws from influences that vary from Velvet Underground to modern art-pop. I have the feeling this guys might represent a European answer to Perfume Genius, re-inventing sophisticated pop drenched in a psychedelic sauce. The setlist flows without any breaks. The peaks are reached with the experimental journey of ‘premonition / O / it shines through’, not to mention the title-track taken from the new record, and episodes from the debut LP.
Hannes depicts an abstract world which is not easy to understand at first sight. It requires patience, and a high degree of concentration, for he isn’t obsessed with the need of impressing anyone. He just leaves his music speaking on his behalf.