Pitch Black + Feral Five @ Oslo Hackney

Pitch Black + Feral Five, Oslo Hackney, 25 March 2017

Pitch Black - pic Paul Harter

Pitch Black + Feral Five live @ Oslo Hackney

Oslo is a tight little venue above a trend bar next to Hackney Central station, so it makes perfect sense that two local (ish) bands have got together to play out their new respective sets to discerning ears. If you haven’t been to Oslo - you should - as the sound system is pretty damn good and the space perfect for a 300+ crowd.

If you weren’t there, well you missed a cracking little gig…..

Feral Five - pic Paul Harter

Feral Five, fresh from their stint at Martyn Ware’s curated Picasso-inspired session at the National Portrait Gallery two months ago, have a new EP to peddle and play out live.

The gig is an early starter but the band have attracted a good following who are instantly enlightened by the duo’s latest dress sense. Clearly Kat and Drew Five have been raiding Miss Gaga’s costume cupboard - no really they have - and they both have hit the purple sequin sparkle cat suits. In fact Kat has transmuted into the lovechild of Iron Woman and Tron with hipped horns, bird helmet and flashes of chromatic luminescence.

If you remember the G-Force cartoon from sometime in mid-80s you wouldn’t be far off target, well by three decades, but imagination and dressing-up was strong then too.

Feral Five - pic Paul Harter

Whilst Drew keeps his cred with the now iconic baseball hat, his dress-skin still mingles with the visual effervescence. We are clearly in the realms of a future taking place now where fashion art music are all part of the deal.

And FF have been busily inventive given their immersion in past art and the inspiration gleaned.
The band’s sound is much much fuller and stronger than previous gigs, a sound fine-tuned into the C21st nu-electro punkpop spectrum of your soundsphere. The tracks are all clever structure and intelligent accessible arrangement.

Feral Five - pic Paul Harter

Kat caresses her fuzz Gibson whilst Drew ducks in and out of sparkly visuals meditating on the bass throbs like a proto-Peter Hook. The vocals are fragile yet evocative, bred on a diet of 3D technologies, space, political righteousness and algorithmically inspired patterning.

For a DIY band that relies on a set of pre-determined robo-tracks it’s amazing how catchy and boppy they are in that simple but effectively maddening manner. Singles Neurotrash, Rule 9, Desire and, in particular, the new tracks off their Man Cat Doll Machine EP, are punchy, likeable and worthy. Doll being one such stand out track.

Having been bred on some deep tech philosophies, art stimulus and a glimmer of Pet Shop Boys magic wizardry, Feral Five have created a purple patch that should see them thrive further. Let’s hope the EP gets some further airplay as it all sounds great loud and punky.

Pitch Black - pic Paul Harter

Pitch Black are a different kind of duo with a different history.

Kiwis of 20 years standing with a strong following off these shores yet one of them currently residing in Hackney. These godfathers of antipodean electronica land in the UK fresh from a lengthy tour of NZ’s summer festivals promoting their Filtered Senses album.

Mike and Paddy run a tight professional ship with their array of sequencers, gizmos, projections and dubtastic effects. If Pitch Black’s sound were a UFO you would be transported to darkened glades via a midnight forest speedway to a redux urban neonland of psychedelic throbness. I wish I knew which gigs they were playing again this year as I would be happy to land on their planet again.

Tracks pulse, mesmerise and punch out through deep landscapes of electronic echo trickery woven with roads of deep techno and menacing minimalism.

No vocals per se, short of some sampled snatches, no clear track identity either to these ears, but that’s not the essence here. We are taken on an Orb-type journey of many references. The mind monkey throwing up flashes of interconnected cities and restless distances travelled via some future dark web portal.

Pitch Black - pic Paul Harter

All this has Oslo frugging and rocking. The crowd were not all Kiwis as you would imagine, but dosed with a healthy smattering of knowledgeable Spanish, Italo trustafarians, Big Chillers, musos, local 7” open deck spinners and tech-heads, which made for an exultant party.

The stage action is entertaining too. With a contemplative Mike fuelling the knob twiddling action contrasting with over-excited pogoing from Paddy who does a brilliant impersonation of a Mohican elf on Gong-sprite. All interwoven with brilliantly saturated home spun visuals - some clearly shot locally. The gig could have gone on and on - it deserved to - but a curfew in Hackney is a well enforced curfew.

Both bands are visually strong - with eyecandy of a particularly high order and evocative value. Clearly creativity in its strongest sense is in evidence here and a lot of effort has gone into ensuring the eyes are as activated as the feet. That says a lot about hard graft as it does about depth, and that’s the reason I love both duos, and in different ways.

We can only trust that both bands will be appearing on this summer’s festival bills – they are definitely worth searching out for. For art’s sake.

Pitch Black’s album ‘Filtered Senses’ is available on Bandcamp, and Kitmonsters interview is here.

Feral Five’s EP ‘Man Cat Doll Machine’ is available here

*Review by Mondo 23