Even by their standards, Planet Mu have hit a particularly purple patch of late. The line up for tonight perfectly illustrates how far ahead of the pack the label is right now – delightfully off kilter with the rest of dance music, almost obscenely inventive, always a cracking listen.
It is a little sad then to see Tropics start his set playing to a room of nine or ten of us. His warm, soulful grooves are paired with footage of arctic wildlife, tundra and icebergs. We give all the encouragement we can. The room begins to fill towards the end of his set, but I can’t help feeling this might be the fate for the mellowest act on a night like this.
Rudi Zygadlo’s irreverent perversion of dubstep follows, injecting a definite element of energetic fun. Slow squelches and wobbles weave between vocals reminiscent (to this guy at least) of Sisters of Mercy, a few people are left scratching their heads, the rest of us lap it up.
Barry Lynn’s recent rebirth was shrouded in a little mystery, but his eponymous debut as The Host shares obvious DNA with The Dissolve, his last as Boxcutter. Tonight, its subtle shifting ambient moods are bolstered with harder edges and weightier bass, but still maintain an intricate and mesmeric feel, the scatterfire drums ratchet up the intensity a gear further.
If tonight has followed an emotional arc – from Tropics’ coolly detached ambient funk, via Rudi Zygadlo’s impertinent industrial-goth glam and The Host’s pressure cooker tension – then Kuedo is its beating heart. The Blade Runner visuals projected behind him are a knowing touch, the smile on his face adds to the sense of joyous anticipation. His album ‘Severant’ was an exploration of emotional turmoil, of heartbreak that refused to wallow. Live it is played with the kind self assurance that comes with moving on. The music is the same but somehow imbued with a pulsating optimism and defiance.
When Machinedrum takes the stage, the sense of heartfelt triumph that reached its pinnacle in Kuedo’s set gives way to a hedonistic flood. What do you do when heartbreak makes you low? You pick yourself up, dust yourself down and move on – to the dancefloor.