city varieties is a really nice venue: an original victorian music hall that is a bit frayed round the edges and has a lady with white hair and a torch to show you to your seat. it's quite small and compact too, seating a couple of hundred in the stalls and i'd guess 100 more in the circle. there are also 6 or so private boxes in the circle, so we had great fun guessing which one people would enter, mario party fashion, as you coudn't see the entrance to the boxes from where we were sitting.

at about 8.10 the 3 people representing animal collective this evening wondered on and plugged in. the drummer, wearing a long blonde wig hid behind the drum kit and started a drum machine, whilst one of the guitarists played a simple yet hypnotic riff and jumped around like a loon. some titters resonated around the room. one song drifted into another, while being very distinct. they ALMOST make really good pop songs in a similar spirit to ween, but thankfully they seem too fucked to do it 'properly'.
as the 25 minute set progressed the drummer actually started playing the drums (standing up) as things turned more tribal and softly sung lyrics became became yelps and yells.
this worked better live than on record, but that's not to say the records aren't highly recommended.

i was a bit dissapointed with mum: whole heaps of respect to them for turning towards a more 'real' sound (laptops and electronics were kept for provision of background noise/atmosphere; real drummer has replaced the machines etc), but in doing so it has taken away from, not added to, the sound: yes, kristin anna's vocals were mesmerising throughout: half sung half spoken in a strong icelandic accent but it was often too polite. they would now go down a storm on jules holland or something. the tension that existed between the (natural) instruments/voices and the (artificial) computers/synths has mostly gone, making them a much less interesting proposition.

however, visually they kept me occupied (6 people on stage playing cello, trumpet, organ, guitar, bass, saw(!), accordian, laptops, melodica, glokenspeil, synths, drums etc in different combinations) and the first 3 or so songs were electric, until they started to fall into cod-tortoise territory, only to show what they can do every 20 minutes with a song like 'green grass of tunnel'.

maybe this has a lot to do with the current trend for electronica artists to get all 'serious': citing MBV as influences, banishing sequencers etc and also an attempt to overcome the crushing nothingness of 'live' laptop shows, but if it happens at the expense of the music itself, i for one am not that interested.

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