Opening proceedings whilst commendably single handily representing the local experimental scene is the one-man project Steve Strong (7.5). Reserved to behind the drums whilst also on guitar and bass duties, Strong is a single arsenal of creativity, relying on relays and loops to create dynamic and innovative soundscapes that begin skeletal in nature prior to evolving into multi-layered complications. It’s truly a unique performance with Strong commandeering and taming each respective instrument with finesse and delicate skill, almost oblivious to the masses who have descended upon the Exchange early to spectacle at a showcase of skill and remarkable creativity.
Whist the image and thought of a one-man math rock band may ignite internal speculation of restricted depth, despite his limitations Strong instinctually weaves smoothing sonic waves of complexity that ebb and flow, adhering to the typically perceived intricacy of the genre. Whilst it’s undeniable that this is certainly an impressive showcase, there are times when Strong indulges into tried and clichéd tropes that are synonymous with the scene and genre, including incorporating speeches and samples that have become exhausted within this movement. Never the less, it’s truly remarkable to see this young musician effortlessly create ingenious content that is on par with the work of the genre’s greats and trendsetters. An inspiring presentation of how one doesn’t necessarily require a full act to create music of this level, they merely need to possess creativity and skill.
Revelling in evolving time signatures aplenty, Chiyoda Ku (8) waste no time showcasing their miraculous balancing act between melancholic groove and sonic complexity. Navigating through a set composed of material from their 2017 debut How It Works, the act sublimely forge luscious soundscapes that hint at a grimy urbanite environment looming. Refined in nature and in practise, but still containing enough metaphorical grit and static, the act simply radiates a DIY ethos that’s presented in a professional and reserved fashion. Whilst some young acts of this genre choose to pursue and boast such youthful adolescence through their work, Chiyoda Ku present infectiously hooking instrumental soundscapes that detail the grime of living young within an urban and callously modern environment.
Despite such a statement, the act occasionally deters from such aforementioned paths to explore and prospect more creative and jovial lands that fruit more groove and bounce filled produce. Certainly, this adds a faint level of contrast and juxtaposition within their content, which is performed with a painless level of proficiency. Such content is thoroughly engrossing to the point of being essentially spellbinding, with the group bridging the sizable gorge between reserved aloofness and affable math tinged contemporary conventionalism. Truly, the group’s take on their amalgamation of math and post-rock is conveyed meritoriously and an utter joy to bask in. A haplessly hooking and hypnotising set from a refreshingly homegrown act who is abound to make a revered name for themselves in time to come.
Whilst the acts tonight both convey a subtle amount of reserved stoicism in order to amplify the textures and dynamics in their work, TTNG (9) chose to be more approachable, friendly and welcoming, introducing themselves to the sold out crowd before them. Launching into the soothing fretwork of ‘Adventure, Stamina & Anger’ the group flawlessly demonstrate their almost unparalleled skill whilst staying true to the warm ethos and compassion this group has become known for. The flourishment and progressive nature of ‘Destroy The Tabernacle’ and ‘Chinchilla’ go down a storm with the math orientated masses gathered here tonight, who soak in the intelligent complexity and stark accessibility of TTNG’s work.
Such accessibility is only complimented by the warmth and wholesome nature of frontman Henry Tremain; a character who ultimately proves to the physical manifestation of this act. Benevolent, affectionate and drinking from a mug of tea throughout the set, his delightful, engaging and tender mannerisms only amplify and add animation to the sonic warmth and complexity that’s evident within their work. As the set progresses, it swiftly becomes a curious journey of discovery that explores their back catalogue and the progressive changes in detail that’s found within their work from various releases. Content from Animals and 18.104.22.168.0 showcase such natural progression in their work whilst presenting the blanketing elaboration and excitement that’s found within all of their content, with such enthusiasm only being amplified due to the phenomenal focus, precision and accuracy that is required to flawlessly perform such sonic adventures.
Considering this genre is stereotypically perceived as rather introverted in nature and physical expression, the group inject a wonderous amount of childlike curiosity and wonder into their charismatic and influential take on the math rock genre, with such playful fascination being in the evident forefront of their live show. With the band mirroring the glee of the crowd, the group close the night with a marvellous trifecta of the singalong highs of ‘If I Sit Still Maybe I’ll Get Out Of Here’, the jazz aesthetics of ‘Whatever, Whenever’ and the manic yet emotional fretwork of ’26 Is Danicer Than 4’. A bedazzling night of exploration of the contemporary in an accommodating environment surrounded by like minded adventurers seeking sonic intimacy.