Das Fluff/Leg Puppy/AkA/Analogue Electronic Whatever

Dublin Castle, London - 26 January 2023

Lean but still very mean

My first gig of 2023 and the start, I hope, to a year more packed with live performances than recent times. We all need more small venues gigs in our lives.

Stepping in at a late stage to cover a space left by Nata In Furs who had to pull out in the run up to tonight, Analogue Electronic Whatever were an entirely unknown quantity. I didn’t even have the time in the run up to the gig to check them out online beforehand.

No matter. I make a point, if at all possible, of seeing all the bands on a bill (unless the support is an act I already know I have no time for), and tonight was no exception. And, as often is the case, Analogue Electronic Whatever was a total delight from start to finish. A one man band, whose live setup comprised a number of pieces of electronic equipment, a synth and some multi-coloured disco lights, this kept reminding me of Silicon Teens.

Analogue Electronic Whatever Dublin Castle 2023
Credit: @Felix_lensman
   Analogue Electronic Whatever Dublin Castle 2023   
Analogue Electronic Whatever Dublin Castle 2023

Photos [L-R]: Analogue Electronic Whatever x3

The bonkers second song Crazyheads was like a proggy Empire State Human, and with video projections throughout his set of Umatic video recorders, Pan Am aeroplanes coming in to land, Felix The Cat cartoons and footage of DJs dodging the law in the early days on the Radio Caroline ship, it was a delight for the eyes too.

The sound mix was really good, with the live treated vocals blending seamlessly with the backing track, live synth and assorted boxes. Certainly playful, it felt even a touch tongue in cheek at times, but the engaging delivery took nothing away from what was a deceptively clever suite of compositions.

Setlist: Freakshow 533, Crazyheads, Frozen Milk 77, Good Trouble, Our Studio 54, Hole

Maestro of an ever expanding catalogue of conceptual and fastidious suites of electronic compositions, Portugal based Frenchman Henri Sizaret made another of his brief visits to the UK to grace us again with AkA's  unique sound of the world around us all.

With his playful approach to presentation, AkA was a neat follow on from Analogue Electronic Whatever. His trademark shorts were absent tonight, which was a bit disappointing, but then, to be fair, it was London in January. But Henri was at least barefoot. Which is either dangerously cavalier or downright stupid on the stage of a London pub. In a short but very smart introduction to forewarn the gathering crowd, Sizaret boldly stated "This is not music. There are no notes, only frequencies”. He advised onlookers (most of whom I suspect had never seen or heard AkA before) that they were welcome to dance, lay on the floor, or whatever they felt like doing during his half-hour set.

This evening’s entire performance was taken from one of AkA’s most challenging albums; Wup Und Wuf. The 16-track album released in 2019 is the result of four years of iterative work on recorded natural sounds of the sea and wind, designed to reveal the hidden frequencies of natural sounds, with no emotional human intervention or interpretation.

AkA Dublin Castle 2023    AkA Dublin Castle 2023   
AkA Dublin Castle 2023

Photos [L-R]: AkA x3

Honestly, for me - a confirmed fan of AkA - the album was one of the least engaging for me. But this live rendition (my first opportunity to hear an entire set dedicated to the recordings) was a revelation live when compared with the diligent and extensive work in the studio. With AkA’s distinctive, warping live visuals and the thumping resonance of the bass, plus the higher frequencies, it's physically immersive, experiential. Which only seems entirely appropriate given the elemental sources of inspiration.

No notes were harmed in the production of these bleeps, but as the tempo reached a crescendo towards the end of his set, it sounded as if he'd extracted a piece from a mid-period Cabaret Voltaire track and stretched a 10 second sample into 10 minutes. Simultaneously, one of the most minimalist AkA gigs I've attended and one of the most satisfying.



Next up were Leg Puppy who I hadn't seen for maybe a couple of years or more, on account of that goddamn pandemic. For several years I’ve appreciated the sense that anything can happen, seemingly random figures appearing on stage, pop art iconography, acerbic wit lyrics and punk-inspired statement songwriting in a variety of London pubs (seemingly their venue of preference).

But here (and in keeping with what one assumes was pure chance that all of tonight’s acts were performing with as few band members as possible), instead of the usual multi-personnel stage antics that would normally require crowd control measures, here Leg Puppy was founder Darren Laurence alone. The presence fetish dancer Madame Crumpet the only familiar touch of performance typically seen from 'the Puppy'.

I’d also gotten used to their brand of anthemic, sing-a-long jabs at the despairing world around us, so this evening's set of heavily skewed towards lyric-free, instrumental mood pieces caught me off guard.

Leg Puppy Dublin Castle 2023
Credit: @Felix_lensman
   Leg Puppy Dublin Castle 2023   
Leg Puppy Dublin Castle 2023

Photos [L-R]:Leg Puppy x3

Their cover of The Normal’s Warm Leatherette was known to me and, of course, does feature lyrics, but the original’s pumping tempo was transformed here into a slower tempo, more ominous dirge. For the next 15 minutes or so, instead of the style of material I’d known Leg Puppy for, we got a far more abstract series of vocal free (or vocal lite) sound sculptures. This felt way more introspective and serious than anything I’ve heard from them before.

I’d not picked up such a dramatic shift in the writing style before tonight and I missed the energy one usually gets from a Leg Puppy live. It wasn't until he closed with crowd pleaser Selfie Stick that the set delivered on my expectations.

But then going to a Leg Puppy gig with expectations is a fundamentally flawed thing to do. More fool me.

Setlist: New Future, Warm Leatherette, (035), NDA v2, Good Time, Speak, Talk Speak, Had Enough of This Dimension, Selfie Stick

Frustratingly, I had to leave after hearing only a third of Das Fluff’s set. A band I’ve harboured a fondness for since they first appeared, and I’ve watched the live lineup morph across the years. Down to a lean, but still very mean, two-piece tonight Dawn Lintern and Christian Ruland had recently relocated back to London having spent the previous seven years living (and gigging out of) Berlin. As I missed most of their set, I thought it would be interesting to get the opinion of someone to whom Das Fluff was a new experience.

So I hereby hand over reviewing duties to the aforementioned Henri (AkA) Sizaret for his thoughts on their set in full…

With the ongoing explosion of creative styles, pinpointing Das Fluff’s music genre is a challenge. But if you don’t know this duo formed by Dawn Lintern on vocals and with Christian Ruland on instrumentation, perhaps references to Goldfrapp and Nina Hagen will give you a first impression of what Das Fluff is capable of.

Das Fluff Dublin Castle 2023
Credit: @Felix_lensman
   Das Fluff Dublin Castle 2023
Credit: @Felix_lensman
Das Fluff Dublin Castle 2023
Credit: @Felix_lensman

Photos [L-R]: Das Fluff x3

Being the last band to play tonight, Das Fluff pleased its numerous fans with a set true to the band’s proven formula: a blend of downtempo brash electronica, organically twirled by a Theremin (which the electronic geeks out there will appreciate) and confidently driven by Dawn’s performance, where personal anecdotes and rants (against music streaming) punctuate their best songs like Maximum Damage and One Day.

Das Fluff does not leave you indifferent, and that’s vastly thanks to Dawn’s interaction with her audience. When she steps down from the stage and walks among them with her big dark eyes, one starts being afraid. And that’s the beauty of Das Fluff : the band walks on a fine line between being dark and sarcastic.

Almost one hour later, a very accomplished and substantial show comes to an end and still leaves us wanting more. 8/10

Setlist: Supervolcano, Not Enough, Maximum Damage, Little Tearaway, Tokyo Daisuki, Nothing, Lovebites, Lying Lips, Big Fucking Love, Dance Til The End, One Day

Review + Photos: Rob Dyer
Das Fluff Review: Henri Sizaret
Photos: Rob Dyer + @Felix_lensman