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Tag: electronic

Live Review: Parcels at Manchester Academy 2

Darkness. The smell of BO and beer. The nondescript chatter and buzz of pre-show hype. Out from the dark, synth chords start pounding away as a slick guitar riff begins to ring out; the crowd instantly starts bopping away. Parcels have arrived. Straight off the back of their self-titled debut album, the Berlin based Aussie boys have been lighting up the European synth-pop circuit for years and after 2017’s collaboration with Daft Punk, they have been on everyone’s lips. I sat down with the band before they headlined Academy 2 to talk all things music, influences, and Christmas albums. When asked which genre Parcels would describe themselves as, Patrick (keyboardist and vocalist) said ‘I don’t think it’s important, and it’s not very easy to define. I wanna say pop music because that’s the mentality, kind of, but I don’t think people would instantly associate our sound with pop music,’ and as opener Comedown’s disco synths and jazz-like guitar solo suggests, Parcels are musically miles away from the formulaic music dominating most charts today. However, the intense audience reaction, plus their 1.8 million monthly Spotify listeners, shows this 5-piece has a great understanding of what clicks with a listener. As drummer Anatole puts it ‘in Berlin we were pretty influenced by music that was made to make people dance and we try to re-enact that in our lives shows cos there’s something really special about the whole audience dancing to your songs,’ and when smash single Tieduprightnow is finally delivered there isn’t a single member of the audience who can’t help but groove to this masterfully crafted funk hit.

That’s not to say the boys are all about fan service, as they admits that sometimes ‘we decide to mess with the audience, like after a heavy dance song we’ll play a really slow song’ which at points in the set can be frustrating, especially when the crowd desperately wants to just dance and sing along. These creative decisions might be a product of the youthful playfulness and self-deprecating nature of these lads, which is quite refreshing in a climate where bands take themselves and their reputation too seriously. Anatole even jokingly mocks Patrick when he tries to talk me through the pedals and effects they use to achieve their unique synth sound: ‘Oh the way we make sounds, hm it’s very interesting’ jokes Anatole in a faux intellectual voice. The joviality continues when discussing their Daft Punk collaboration: ‘they [Daft Punk] have inside helmets and outside helmets, the ones they wear on their album covers are the heavy duty ones, but in the studio they just wear smaller ones with better breathing space and holes in the side to listen, it’s pretty casual.’ When asked about future projects, keyboardist Patrick jokes about the possibility of a Christmas album, much to the instant disdain of his bandmates, although I for one would love a funk cover of All I want for Christmas Is You, and even John Lennon delved into the festive realm at one point.

That’s part of the quirky charm of Parcels, when the 8 minute long Everyroad is performed, which
Patrick called ‘liberating, as we weren’t trying to make a pop song, we just made it for ourselves
through jamming,’ guitarist Jules and bassist Noah climb up the stage and begin performing a David Byrne-esque minimalist dance. The crowd goes wild for it and you can see from their beaming smiles after their little choreographed moment they relish these moments of absurdity, although this referential moment is superseded by my highlight of the whole show, when Parcels’ display themselves as the collective they truly are. The five bandmates leave their various positions on the stage to form a single line at the front of the stage for the chilled Bemyself, showing the band off as a cohesive, creative unit in contrast to other bands that portray themselves as merely the FRONTMAN and co. If guitarist Jules wasn’t already the spitting image of George Harrison I would’ve forgiven you for not noticing the comparison earlier, but as they stated in our earlier interview ‘when song writing we would always sit down altogether and listen to demos to decide things together, from the instrumental side to lyrics. We never really wanted a main vocalist either; we wanted it to be like The Beatles.’ The impassioned sing-alongs, the creative harmony, the eccentric bandmates, and most importantly the fantastic songs; Parcels are on the Abbey Road to something special.

They leave us on IknowhowIfeel, a surprisingly slow track in contrast to their bigger dance hits but it makes perfect sense when Parcels deliver their last trick of the night. One by one, throughout the song, each band member leaves the stage, starting with the guitarist, and ending on the drummer. By leaving those responsible for the beat to continue by themselves, it installs the catchy tune into the minds of the audience members much like a fade out on a record, so that when the drummer finally leaves the now empty stage, the audience carries on singing the tune without them even there. Genius.

Review by Noah Matthews

Live Review: Gazelle Twin at Soup Kitchen

For us human beings to peacefully coexist with one another, an element of performance and disguise is critical.  We exaggerate our best qualities and conceal our worst.  We take on characteristics abnormal to us to resolve our differences with others.  However, as much as it helps us prosper as a species, this personal compromise is the source of our unhappiness, frustrations and terror, and makes us fear our own individuality.  Maybe Freud or someone wrote something about it, maybe in Civilisation and its Discontents, maybe in, I don’t know, chapter two?  But who am I to say?  I’m no shrink.

Gazelle Twin is a producer and vocalist from Brighton.  She had a new record out recently.  This is about all I know about her and I’m not sure I want to know any more.  She played a gig at Soup Kitchen on Thursday 4th October, charming and scaring me in equal measure.  Bar an anonymous knob fiddler hunched over a desk to her right, she was alone on a stage devoid of embellishments or decoration, placing the visual focus of the performance entirely on her costume and body.  She pranced around onstage in full red and white attire like a giant tin of Red Stripe channelling Godzilla, leaving only her lips exposed.  Sometimes her performance was reminiscent of rap gigs I’ve been to in her confrontational, just-me-and-the-mic-in-this-bitch demeanour (see above).  But however she carried herself, her physicality was always like an extension of the music itself, and her idiosyncratic dance moves synced perfectly with music.  She yelped, screamed and whispered over broken synth loops.  The huge kicks and shimmering industrial snares scarcely held the tracks together, leaving the crowd asking themselves ‘‘Should we be dancing to this?  Is it going to look bad if I go for a cig?’’.  Her songs are very formulaic and her sound niche.  But it was never boring.  You can get away with it with such musicianship and finesse.

My favourite moment of the night came when she burst into an unexpected acoustic recorder solo.  Somehow she had appropriated this infantile, undignified instrument into something capable of paralysing Manchester’s young scenesters into stunned silence.  If before she was a rapper, now she was an otherworldly nymph, enchanting those who dared enter her realm.  It sounds strange saying that the sheer ridiculousness of her act seemed entirely normal.  At the end of the day she is an illusion, a contrived hodgepodge, a sum of a million different cultural sources, yet with such an original sound and aggressive demeanour.  If she wasn’t so relatable, perhaps we would be laughing at Gazelle Twin instead of lauding her.

Review by Joe McGavin

Photo by Hannah O’Gorman

Live Review: Moses Sumney at The Dancehouse

Upon entering Manchester’s Oxford Road Dancehouse this Wednesday gone, I wasn’t
entirely sure what to expect. This time last year I missed out on Moses Sumney’s London
show, and so now was my chance to catch him at last. Having finally seen him perform live,
I’ll be making sure not to miss the next gig. It’s been a number of days since the show, and I
still find remnants of his enigmatic, hauntingly beautiful vocals, lyrics, and production
swirling around in my memory. The idea of being nestled in an intimate space, immersed in
the deeply sensual sounds from his album Aromanticism, now feels like some short surreal

It was my first time being in the Dancehouse to see an act, and the 1930’s Art Deco complex
perfectly accommodated the other-worldly atmosphere I was soon to experience. We were
welcomed by Moses’ support ESKA, an inventive and idiosyncratic female solo artist. She
performed a diverse range of music merging folk, soul and electronic sounds, completely at
ease with herself and with the eccentric world that she inhabits. Her dynamism via vocal
and electronic experimentation perfectly set up what was to come after her set.
Through a haze of hanging red mist, dressed in his casual loose kimono, Moses made his
appearance. Opening with the clean and crisp plucking of the guitar on ‘Don’t Bother
Calling’, he instantly put the audience under his spell. It was this ability to naturally tap into
the crowd, through his dizzying range of falsettos, carefully crafted loops, vocal layering and
even his own towering presence, that made such a lasting impression on me. Throughout
the evening his great attention to detail in crafting intricate background soundscapes
proved how meticulous he is as a musician, and this was integral to creating the ethereal
and other-worldly atmosphere that filled the room. All of this was facilitated by the skills of
three talented multi-instrumentalists in his band. They expertly merged guitars, violin,
clarinet and keyboard to give each song its own unique sound. One fine example came with,
‘Lonely world’, in which light guitar and a controlled backbeat slowly descended into an
exhilarating heart-stomping anthem.

Despite Moses’ attention to building an immersive, encapsulating atmosphere in the
intimate Dancehouse theatre, he still found room for moments of humorous interaction
with the audience. For several songs, he sought assistance from the audience to amplify the
background vocals. But before doing so, he jokingly added ‘if you don’t know how to sing,
just be supportive of those who can!’. I took this advice on board and remained dutifully
silent and supportive. Moses also snuck in a number of covers before the end of his set,
including Bjork’s ‘Come to me’ and a playful Amy Winehouse crowd-pleaser, ‘I Heard Love is
Blind’. Even an enthusiastic heckler in the crowd got his wish for Moses’s own ‘Man on the

For the encore, I believe everyone in the audience saw the full worth of their ticket with
Moses’ final and arguably most popular song, ‘Plastic’. The gentle lilt of this piece brought a
dreamy finish to a genuinely moved audience. Through the mournful confession of
vulnerability in the refrain ‘My wings are made of plastic’, Moses reminds us that despite his
ability to captivate and entertain with such a spectacular performance, he too is human,
fragile, and he finishes with the reminder that there is an element of beauty in such things.

Review by Sam Howard