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The Stars of the Lid @ Oran Mor, Glasgow 6/10/16

ByJames White

Oct 13, 2016

Challenging all concepts of familiar ground and self awareness, the Stars of the Lid prove there is far more uncertainty in what cannot be heard than what is right in front of you.  Without delving too deeply the metaphysical, the performance in Glasgow’s West End provided a more encompassing experience than could have ever been anticipated.

A combination of seemingly limitless factors contributed to what made this ambient setting so perfect: as soon as the doors were shut, this space was sealed off from the busy lives of outside.  In an almost congregational manner, each audience member sunk deeply into their subconscious observing the imprint of flowers blooming and the water running on the rear wall.  Rather than being distracting, the video projections created an imaginative landscape that gently washed over the band members. For this American band, each city along their UK tour had its own story to tell, captured in brief moments by cinematographer Andrew Telling.

Coming up for the first breath of air 40 minutes into the set, they thank the rapturous audience for coming and ease into ‘December Hunting For Vegetarian Fuckface’.  The genius of their music does not hide a pretence but a plainness for whatever goes, illustrated by their creative track titles.  The reality of listening to these musicians live is that there is no natural progression or predictable behaviour: it finishes as abruptly as it starts.  The immense range of sound covers the piercing sharp pitches to the purely physical, shooting up your legs and arms from tremendous surface vibrations.  Although the challenge of justly articulating such a sensation is futile, looking at the pregnant mother gently caressing her belly in front of me, there was an unmistakable focus from every member of the audience.  The band managed to sustain a raging cacophony for several minutes with such fragility that when it came to an end, you wondered what was there before.

The idea of functionality for their music was raised in a recent interview for The Quietus.  For band member Adam Wiltzie it is dreams of tennis and bathing in Swedish lakes.  For others, it is a cure for insomnia.  Either way, it is a passive reaction that provides a platform for exploration.   As such, the command of music engineering tapped into a different aspect with each person.  Their sound manipulation device required constant attention, monitoring the flashing lights and the maze of cables pouring from core.  Tweaking at the knobs and dials with delicateness, the sound undoubtedly created a new benchmark for what a live performance meant.

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