Holy Fuck at Heaven

25th May 2010 – 9.48 pm

A man wearing a tribal mask with a draping straw beard walks on to the stage and starts a sequencer, introducing a simple drum beat before layering other sounds and patterns over the top to create and manipulate rhythms and grooves. It is fascinating to watch Sbtrkt as he twiddles knobs to add dynamic breaks, alter the patterns, or segue in to a song with a different tempo. But one man on stage fiddling with a control console does not make for an engrossing gig, and my mind often wanders as the simple white-trainered two-foot shuffle and head bob continues on stage. I would like to have Sbtrkt playing on my stereo at home or on my headphones whilst I am out and about, as the beats appeal to me, but it doesn't quite work as a traditional gig. Maybe if everyone was dancing it would be different, but they're not.

Holy Fuck may suffer the same fate, being an electronic-based band, but they have much more happening at any one time, helped enormously not only by having four members but also by including some traditional instruments. The beats are provided mostly by a drummer behind a full acoustic kit and a bass player hits all the low notes, the other two members manipulating sequencers, keyboards, and all manner of electronically archaic instruments. Whilst the same head bob is seen, the physical efforts of the drummer amplify the effect of the beats, the bouncing of the bass player resonates with the intensity of the rhythms, and the occasional use of echoed voices through live microphones realises a vivid atmosphere of creation. It feels more like music is being made, not simply played back with tweaks.

Most of the new album Latin is played tonight, and with an intensity that brings the songs to life. For me, Latin doesn't seem to have the raw energy of the eponymous debut, yet seeing and hearing the songs played in London's Heaven venue makes me feel the music, appreciating the more laid-back beats that grow in to solid grooves and occasionally explode with frenetic outbursts. Hearing the slow-burning Red Lights, seeing how Stilettos is created, and revelling to the incredible P.I.G.S. live I can now sense the new direction of Holy Fuck. The impression of the first album is heightened by having a lo-fi recording sound, and leaving that behind gives a muted initial feeling of Latin which is deceptive of the continued energy in the songs.

A few songs from the debut album are played and, apart from a stronger recognition from the audience, they blend perfectly in to the new material. Lovely Allen and Super Inuit are great to hear again, but the real joy is in hearing the new material brought to life. There is an encore and we are treated to a couple more songs, the band thanking the audience through their echoed and distorted microphones, almost weaving the reverberations in to the songs. The spirit of rock and roll is thwarted again by a strict curfew that enforces a single encore, regardless of audience or band desires, but Holy Fuck leave the venue vibrant.

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