Moscow Youth Cult played at The Chameleon with Double Muscle, The Cusp and Twenty Year Hurricane
Forty-odd people crammed into a top-floor bedroom in central Nottingham. Amongst a fireplace and the vestiges of domestic fittings loomed two monolithic stacks of speakers. The guest list was scrawled on a bit of old cardboard box. This could only be The Chameleon, the one high-calibre music venue where you suspect somebody uses the stage as a bed after the gig's finished.
First-up was Twenty Year Hurricane. This local trio specialise in spacious post-punk tinged indie, built around quasi Peter Hook bass lines, iced with bright electro-acoustic strummings and sprinkled with snappy punctuated vocals. The frontman's earnest yelps gave way to palpably east-midlands accent which sometimes brought honest gravity to his lines and other times made him sound like a bloke from work spilling his guts at a karaoke bar. The drummer carried the band through the inevitable first-act ennui, with some truculent tub thumping and plaintive backing vocals, which resembled a cliff-jumper's last wail. Heartfelt, if not pretty.
Knob-tinkering psychedelic trio The Cusp were on next. At their feet, a small cityscape of guitar pedals twinkled, burning more energy than the whole of Zanzibar in a week. Flinging themselves into some pacey tracks reminiscent of The King of Limbs era Radiohead, their meditative rhythms and bass-lines formed a canvas for the frontman's intricately textured guitar-work and vocals which soared with Thom Yorkian gusto(minus the really high notes). Teetering between dynamism and inconsistency, their set owed to anybody from Mogwai to Deerhunter, but pioneered its own sleek and original sounds. The playing was technical, shoes were gazed at, and the beards they were a'twizzlin.
The penultimate act was Leeds based sonic blunderbuss, Double Muscle. Inspired by the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Pavement, they unleashed crunchy riffs and scattered wails of feedback asunder. The vocals veered between a convincing guttural shriek and a slightly indie drawl. A bit like a golem raised from a packet of screech powder and some sludge, only to be dressed in ill-fitting indie drainpipes. The bassist seemed perpetually worried about an exam the next morning, yet this only added to his brooding low frequency rumble. Lackadaisical, roll-heavy drums shot for grungey apathy, but at times just lacked vitality. Enjoyable enough, but the repetitive riffs and anti-solos eventually felt more wearisome than anarchic.
Finally, Nottingham's electronic pop duo Moscow Youth Cult played a headline set shot-through with dance beats, retro sci-fi synth sounds and electrostatic sensory saturation. Projections illuminated the stage, showing a mesmeric late-night flick through of the sci-fi channel. More akin to the likes of Xploding Plastix than the atmospheric inspirations they state, they hit some infectiously melodic moments – the zenith being their single Iris. The two band members threaded a soft gossamer web over the pulsing soundscapes, and were absorbed, hand-gazing at their menagerie of keyboards, trigger pads and even the odd guitar. Music to ride a Tron-Cycle to.
Moscow Youth Cult, Double Muscle, The Cusp and Twenty Year Hurricane played at The Chameleon on Friday 20 April 2012.