Soft Riot/Mild Peril/Low Cost Life

The Bedroom Bar, London – 8 February 2014

"A satisfying night of off-kilter electronic acts"

This being the first instalment of a new monthly evening going by the same of 'Abbatoir', located in The Bedroom Bar, in Rivington Street – deep in one of the main arteries of hipsville, central Shoreditch. When we arrived I was reminded of exactly why I don't socialise in many joints in this neigbourhood. Deafeningly loud music that sounded pretty shit through the sound system (way too much top end and treble) didn't either instil much confidence in the house sound system nor what to expect from it later. Thankfully, as the evening drew in outside and the rowdy post-work local crowd inside were gradually displaced by those in attendance for the live acts, the night was transformed.

No sooner had Dee Rüsche and Jonas Ranssřn of the thrilling Női Kabát taken up position in the DJ booth than not only was the hitherto terrible sound magically elevated to something way more convincing (and bass weighty) but the playlist conjured up between them reminded me of precisely why I find myself in such locations mid-week. To the strains of the unrivalled electronic heaven that is Keine Ahnung's Plastik (get the 12” - not the album it appears on) I settled comfortably in for a night of off-kilter electronica acts.

Photo   Photo   [Gig Photo]

Photos [L-R]: merchandise,
Dee Rüsche, Low Cost Life

Opening act were male/female duo Low Cost Life whose seemingly passionate (even political) take on glitched, sampler electronica and soulful female vocals sounded like a bunch of intriguing ideas that had be studiously assembled only for the resultant compositions to fail to connect. It never really gelled, which partly surprises me given the various elements in play, but in such a crowded marketplace where you never get a second chance to make a first impression, they fudged the opportunity. Which I somehow feel was a shame. Who knows, maybe I will revisit in time.

More of a known, and consequently anticipated quantity, was Chris Gilbert's trippy, proggy electronic alter ego, Mild Peril. Shamefully, I've still yet to review any of his releases (I do recommend you go seek them out). As much as the name still makes me cringe a little (surely there's a touch of something self-deprecating about the choice of moniker?), it is a rare thing to hear this kind of music live – even in a scene such as London's offering up gluttonous potential on a monthly basis. It's the audio equivalent of surrounding yourself in Chris Foss' paintings of multicoloured, organically shaped spaceships and wildly imagined landscapes in the impossibly far away reaches of the universe.

I have tickets to see Tangerine Dream in London during the summer – which will be my first time seeing them live. As much as that will be a key tick on my list of 'legendary acts to see live' I still suspect that I'll enjoy an evening with Mild Peril more than those pioneers. Gilbert may have taken inspiration from the likes of such Krautrockers rather than start a movement of his own, but the quality of his take on the form makes it impossible to deny the satisfaction one is able to derive from indulging. Which is why whenever Mild Peril plays live, it will feature in my Songkick list of upcoming events.

Setlist: 'Arp of Pan Part 67' (a work in progress), Arp of Pan 2Outer Zone/Sigma Zone variations, Assault on Precinct 13

Photo   Photo

Photos [L-R]: Mild Peril, Soft Riot

Top of the bill Soft Riot is actually one man. The one man chaos machine that is Jack Duckworth. A one-man riot. Quite what the inside of Duckworth's head is like I find it difficult to picture, but it is assuredly a weird landscape. In all honesty, I haven't yet connected with his musical output as much as others seem to (
Női Kabát's frontman Rüsche is one ardent advocate) but that's possibly because I've heard more live than I have recorded. Sadly, I didn't get the chance to extend that experience much tonight as a later-than-planned start meant I had to leave after just two songs in order to catch the last train home. Still, what I got was more of what I'd witnessed before. The set began with There Just Isn't Enough Time (somewhat ironically entitled given my circumstances). Fortuitously, given my limited time, this was followed by a new song called You Never Know What Might Come Next - which is perhaps the most perfect summary of Soft Riot's compositions.

Aside from the eerily unsettling monochrome artwork to his releases to date, Soft Riot's sound delivers on what the visuals hint at. There's possibly an unhinged genius at play here. I'm still not sure. The bonkers mashups of movie dialogue samples, minimal synth electronics (always a feast for the eyes live) refuse to sit easily alongside Duckworth's (let's call them) quirky vocals. I'm pretty sure I still don't quite get the Soft Riot concept but that may be because I'm trying too hard. Seems sounds like this are perhaps best experienced more in the gut than too much in the head.

Setlist (partial): There Just Isn't Enough TimeYou Never Know What Might Come Next, Another Drone In Your Head

A satisfyingly left-field evening - albeit frustratingly truncated. Meanwhile, the Abbatoir club continues in the same location every third Wednesday each month. 7/10

Rob Dyer