Purity Ring / Doldrums @ Stereo, 27 Nov

Live Review by Bram E. Gieben | 29 Nov 2012

The Canadians have cottoned on to something – if you're going to play electronic instruments, particularly MIDI devices, the possibilities for technical trickery and stagecraft are almost limitless. Doldrums take to the stage first – they make a racket that has a great deal in common with early Hot Chip, or Bear in Heaven. Their singer sounds like Placebo's Brian Molko. But there is nary a guitar in sight – instead, all three band members hammer away at MPCs, Kaoss Pads, digital drum machines and even a record player, frequently swapping instruments, and allowing their fairly standard synth-rock songs to descend into glitched-out improvised chaos. It's deceptively tight, and the band have real charisma.

Smoke fills the room, and Purity Ring enter the gloomy stage. Corin Roddick is playing synth stabs, drum hits and vocal samples by striking a collection of coloured lights – these are keyed in to a network of hanging lamps which glow and pulse in time. Megan James, meanwhile, prowls the stage with a lamp in hand, pausing occasionally to batter a massive drum which lights up on contact. This gives their set an otherworldly, theatrical dimension which is utterly transfixing. There are issues – the many, many layers of effects applied to James' vocals sometimes bury her, and Roddick is a little over-fond of using beat repeat patterns on her voice. But when they get it right – as they do in a pulse-quickening renditions of Fineshrine, Crawlersout and Belispeak – it is absolutely enchanting, both sonically and visually. [Bram E Gieben]