ML Buch & Astrid Sonne @ The Flying Duck, Glasgow, 2 Mar

The joint show of Denmark's finest finds ML Buch and Astrid Sonne on strong form, both showcasing new experiments to a crowd that absolutely gobbles it down

Live Review by Joe Creely | 05 Mar 2024

First tonight is the turn of Astrid Sonne, whose pivot into Tirzah-esque low-key R'n'B on Great Doubt has produced one of the year’s most surprising records, and one of its best so far. It’s a delicate, warm left turn that introduces a formerly hidden playfulness to her soundscapes. Bringing her new pop voice to the stage isn’t without the inevitable shakiness of a new venture, but Sonne still shines through due to her instrumental brilliance. 

The more traditional songs on Great Doubt are superb, but the slightly unfortunate nature of the playback singer stalks their performance, and short of John Maus punching seven shades of shit out of himself, it’s always been hard to make a performance of this sort really shine. Sonne's voice is strong, and the simple drum machine patterns really hit in this environment, but these sections feel a little too choreographed, a little short on spontaneity, with the additional violinist and cellist left sat twiddling their thumbs. But, when they are given the ability to interject, as in the magnificent outro of Say you love me, the whole thing clicks, given extra swirling intensity from its recorded version. 

She is still consistently sublime when reverting to instrumentals though, these pieces bringing her prodigious talent for all to see. The interplay between the cello, churning bellies with its sub-bass flutters, and Sonne’s viola, tearing the most gorgeously brittle romantic melodies, is a delight, all as the violin’s scraping textures gives a dense physicality to the pieces. It’s wonderfully done, and makes for the highlights of Sonne’s set. 

ML Buch on the other hand has an out and out stormer, her sudden ascent accelerating with last year’s truly magnificent Suntub, a second record that brought a further twist to Buch’s work, warping and subverting classic alt-rock tropes into something seductively woozy. It all seems so simple, but it just has this hidden, ineffable quality that makes it add up to so much more. Simple drum patterns, chiming, twin slack guitar rhythms, and that clear as crystal voice, it’s just sublime in a seemingly effortless way. 

What it adds up to is songs that, in their skeletal wonkiness, have, judging on crowd reaction, the pure, effecting force to become future standards. I’m A Girl You Can Hold IRL becomes a full singalong despite its ghostly nature; a spectral roll of a song that exudes such a specific warmth of yearning. Can’t Get Over You With You on the other hand sounds remarkably sinuous, accompanied by that bizarre synth tone that sounds like the door slamming shut in a dystopian cyber-jail. The new stuff is more taut and propulsive live, but Buch maintains the queasy unease that sits beneath her lilting melodies, the likes of Flames shards goo, poised at a point of unsettling and gorgeous that few others can touch. 

It’s a gig that finds both performers on fine form, pushing into new space for themselves, one that the audience is right there with them for, and which leaves you excited for what is to come.