CUISINE / FAT CONCUBINE / COSTI / PALINDRONES / KUNTESSA
The George Tavern, Shadwell, Wednesday 1st June 2022
The fourth New Posh Club night, curated and promoted by Jera and Hanja of Fat CONCUBINE, is already at its third home in five months. Judging by tonight’s gig, this is likely to be its permanent one for the foreseeable future. A packed, enthusiastic and broadly quite young crowd has turned out for a night of electronic post-gothic synthwave and punk cinematica and the acts do not disappoint.
Kuntessa cuts a hyperactive figure. The Italian artist is full of good humour and kicks off with a song called Lazy Bitch, which she explains is about herself because, in her words, “I am a lazy bitch”! We are treated to crunching beat and a deep synth bassline around which the synth melodies are sparse and transparent, allowing her voice plenty of space. She dances around, gyrating and energetic, and the audience takes little time to respond in kind. Kuntessa is funny. She explains that one song is about the problem of Mediterranean women being so hairy, while Bike Seat is about seeing someone who is very hot on a bike and wishing you were the seat they were riding on! The songs are tuneful and fall mainly into SynthPop territory, leaning towards EDM here and there. She finishes with her best song, built around an infectious synth riff playing in thirds and fourths and a soaring, epic melody. It has shades of Chvrches in a mash with Human League while Shura adds spices. It has been a thoroughly entertaining start to the evening and the cheers and whoops from the audience underline their enthusiastic approval.
This is the second time I have seen Bromley-based duo Palindrones live. They impressed me so much the first time that I immediately booked them to play a Vanishing Point gig. Tonight they are even better. Their sound is warm but dark and disarming. Some of their tracks kick off with sampled spoken word and washes of ambient sound before crisp crunching beats, deep buzztones and synth chords accompany Karen’s powerful and, at times, haunting voice. While she provides synth melodies and chords, Jamie switches between synth and beating the living daylights out of electronic drum pads. He is the more animated of the two but Karen also leaps up and down when she has the chance and together they exude an infectious energy. But most of all, it’s the quality of their songwriting and arranging that makes Palindrones so special. They can be scary and sonically explorative at times but they have an instinct for a good pop melody as demonstrated on the new Sulis Minerva EP. They end with the title track and it is a stunning finale to an exciting, engaging set.
There is something of a South East London feel about tonight’s gig and next on stage is Deptford-based artist Costi. And it isn’t long before she has the audience enthralled. Syncopated beats, swirling synths and spacy noises abound and, with an effect on the mic that makes her sound like two people, there are echoes of Elizabeth Fraser and Lisa Gerrard about the way she utilises her voice as an instrument of texture and timbre. A track which, I think, is called Burning Cities adds reverberant arpeggios and there is a kind of dub element to her synthwave style, trippy and deliberated. At one point she goes down on both knees, emphasising the drama in her act. Sometimes her voice is ghostly. In the final track, with electro-tribal beat and translucent build-up of sounds, her voice is more threatening, snarling. It is a climatic ending to what has been a compelling performance.
Tonight’s hosts, curators and promoters, Fat CONCUBINE have been using the New Posh strapline for some time, and their sound is a clear statement of intent for the scene they are building. This is the fourth time I have seen them live in the past eight months and they have played a markedly different set on each occasion. Tonight is no exception. Jera (vocals) and Hanja (synth & electronics) are joined by their newest member Aaron (guitar), and his presence adds both to the sound of the band and to the visual symmetry. With Hanja dressed in her familiar white angel [of death] costume and face mask and Aaron also in white, they stand perfectly either side of (and slightly back from) Jera who is in his usual all-black garb.
Tonight the beats are more pulsating and persistent than ever, and the flashing stage lights add to the aura. Their music is best described as post-gothic electro-punk. Imagine a hybrid of Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, Throbbing Gristle and more contemporary acts like Combichrist and 3Teeth infused with Mark E Smith’s Central European cousin and a dash of Do Nothing. Jera’s vocals are often monotonic but deep, dramatic and disarming, sometimes rising into a crescendo scream while Hanja is his antithesis, bouncy and boisterous, coming into the audience to draw circles on compliant punters’ hands. Aaron adds his voice to Jera’s at times to double the drone effect. Within minutes, they have the entire crowd locked in a hypnotic groove like worshippers at a cult [anti-] religious service. Meanwhile the beats shake the room to its foundations and the waves of ambient noise and ghostly backing voices keep coming. They end with The Ride, its circular sounds and watertight motion filling every corner of the venue. It has been their best performance yet in my opinion.
The final act of the night is Cuisine (above, listed as Cuisine plc on his Instagram page). He is very much the epitome of Jera’s and Hanja’s vision for the New Posh Club. I meet him earlier in the evening, and he cuts a reasonably unassuming and friendly figure. But on stage bare-chested and wearing a cross between a mask and a balaclava, he is transformed into a scary sub-human form. His music matches that vision. Deep gut-wrenching buzztones in the bass area of the synth, big beats, trippy vocal effects and dramatic contrasts fill the room. At one point, there is an aura of David Bowie in his more experimental phases. At other times, the sound is more post-industrial, following a lineage of German electronic experimentalists and Northern Punk Funksters. The audience is swept away on a sea of sonic assaults and the venue is again turned into a postmodernist dancefloor. He ends by jumping off the stage and striding through the audience while the sounds continue to screech and clatter on the stage, saving his biggest dramatic gesture for last. And so ends a superbly curated, consistently engaging and often exhilarating night. New Posh Club seems to have found its home. Tonight everything fell into place.