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Lost City

Live Music Review: Anchorsong at Metronome

14 November 18 words: Becky Timmins
photos: Mike Kane

We just can’t stay away from Metronome at the moment. The expansive stage, killer lighting and smell of fresh paint have got us hooked, so we headed down for another eclectic evening of tunes. This time, from ordinarily-solo MPC monster, Anchorsong…

To kick off, all eyes are on singer Chai Larden, whose vocals are almost velveteen. The band are missing their bassist and drummer tonight, but still manage to play a charming and mellow set. Breezy electric guitar riffs permeate each song, talking to dulcet-yet-groovy acoustic guitar strumming from another member of the band. There are moments of ingenuity here, tied together with rippling keyboards to create something warm and soulful.

As the audience swells in anticipation of Anchorsong, I can recall the first time I encountered the Tokyo-born, London-based artist: it was back in 2016, when he played an intimate set at Nottingham Contemporary. Described by BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson as “absolute fire”, Anchorsong is delicate and discreet as he takes to the stage. This evening he is accompanied by a string quartet, who take their seats wearing wry smiles; they know something special is about to happen.

Stood at the front of the stage with an MPC2500 sampler and a keyboard to his left, Anchorsong ditches delicacy for determination, and what ensues is a multi-sensory feast of sound and visuals. After a couple of tracks, I am totally bowled over not only by his technical finesse, but equally by the funky, joyous atmosphere.

The set darts from ambient to haunting and back again, with lashings of tropical beats, all the while challenging any assumptions the audience may hold on genre. All with the backdrop of curated visuals which, rather than being outlandish, flirt with the beats and soaring strings to create a mesmerising spectacle.

Anchorsong’s technical mastery is definitely the jewel in the crown tonight, but the four string players add an invaluable drama and spirit. Their raw, typically melancholic sound is harnessed with satisfying precision. An hour passes by in what feels like minutes, and Anchorsong asks: “I usually do something a bit louder and edgier from this point. Is that ok?” The set reaches an uplifting and experimental crescendo.

He closes with one of his earliest songs – self-proclaimed “awkward beat-box stuff” – written more than ten years ago. While more paired down and minimal than his later output, you can see how these early strokes have built up Anchorsong’s complex and exhilarating portrait.

Anchorsong performed at Metronome on Wednesday 7 November

Metronome website

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