Wednesday 15 May 2013

Suuns and Valleys at XOYO - 14 May 2013


As I come trotting down the stairs and into the black subterranean pit that is XOYO, I initially wonder if I've got the right night.

The room is very sparsely populated. Just a few stragglers sat forlornly around the edges. When the music starts up, I move in front of the stage to give the band a target to aim at.

Valleys come from Montreal and consist of Marc St Louis on guitar and Tilly Perks, who fiddles with the buttons and knobs on her Korg.  They are a well matched pair, two identical heads of long hair cascading across their faces.

Valleys play a summery, hazy sort of music. They float rather than rock, but they always maintain their grip on an actual tune rather than drifting off into unstructured atmospherics.

Tilly spends much of the set crouched under her equipment, the only thing visible an arm reaching upwards to adjust a dial or flick a switch. Marc ambles in and out of the spotlight.

I like Valleys and am pleased that by the time they conclude their set that the venue has filled up and that they get a good reception.

With all the lights extinguished the venue resonates to the sound of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Dark figures appear in the murk and the sound gradually resolves itself into the opening bars of 'Music Won't Save You'.

This is Suuns and from this powerful opening until they leave the stage over an hour later, they barely put a foot or a note wrong.

I loved the bands' first album 'Zeroes QC' but have had difficulty in getting into their latest 'Images du Futur'. In the live setting, there is no distinction between the two - it's all majestic.

Vocals are generally performed by guitarist Ben Shemie, a curly haired figure twisting and contorting stage left. He is quiet but insistent and slightly sinister, his voice snaking in and out of the sound.

In the centre, the pulsing heart of the band is Joe Yarmush, making his bass a lead instrument, laying down a groove that shifts from machine precision to the loosest funk. He is so lost in his world of noise that he rarely raises his head to look at us.

Ignoring for a moment the excellent drummer Liam O' Neill (and such is the fate of drummers) the band is completed by the wiry Max Henry, wrestling with his keyboards as though trying to pin them to the stage, soon stripped to a T shirt as the energy pours from him.

Suuns' songs are expansive things, often starting deceptively simply but then gradually building in complexity and volume.  This is the perfect blend of krauty rhythms and dance. The audience doesn't know whether to stroke its chin or party its ass off.

If there is one minor flaw in the show it that some of the songs end too abruptly, leaving the crowd wrong footed. It's almost as if sometimes the band forgets the effect that its music is having on others.

Suuns deliver a terrific set this evening, and Valleys were none too shabby either. The show ends with a packed room full of sweaty, happy people. Good times.

The video below contains flashing images and stuff.

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