LIVE REVIEW: Colossal Squid, Dextro, Heat Death of the Sun @ The Cluny, Newcastle (26.03.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Adam Betts, Colossal Squid

Tonight’s a drummer’s paradise, with three stellar players each illuminating proceedings with their own disparate talents. True, Heat Death of the Sun is principally the project of multi-instrumentalist Eugene Davies, yet there’s no question the addition of Ten Sticks’ Mark Copper lends tonight’s performance a fresh depth and perspective. Certainly, his jazz-bound contributions infuse Davies’ dense and desolate soundscape with an unpredictable, improvisational flair, culminating in a set which – in projecting humankind’s vapid 21st Century existence – proves horrifying and captivating by equal measure.

Next up is Dextro, the lesser spotted solo guise of Ommadon and former Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs drummer Ewan Mackenzie. While his other outfits deal chiefly in bludgeoning riffs and skull-crushing volume, Dextro finds Mackenzie offering a more tranquil antidote, flitting between synths, drums and guitar to construct an engrossing miscellany of stargazing sounds. At its zenith, this consummation of ambient drone, pulsating percussion and celestial visuals is truly absorbing; a transformative palette, and one I’d love to see adorn the stage with greater frequency.

Marking the release of new music with his maiden Colossal Squid tour, Adam Betts’ turbo-charged collision of live and electronic drum textures is, in itself, an invigorating proposition. Even so, the Three Trapped Tigers man and Squarepusher alumni does enlist backing, not only from a colourful array of programmed synths, but also in the form of offbeat vocalist AK Patterson. Indeed, while solo one-man-band cuts such as Fub and Drumbones carry a frenetic, hyperactive drive, it’s often the collaborative numbers alongside Patterson which carry greater sway. Relishing the role of frontperson, the singer’s exuberant presence offers both a focal point and a medium for emotional release – not least on Kick Punch, where Betts’ jolting, claustrophobic beats provide backbone for a performance of manic, almost hysterical disquiet. A terrific, eclectic show from three contrasting and creatively charged outfits.

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