Untamed sonic dissidence in east London
Towards the end of the first night of the inaugural Late Junction festival – a pair of gigs put on by the late-night Radio 3 programme that’s home to the sonically strange and adventurous – a woman dressed like a jester in sportswear, her face obscured bank-robber-style by a pair of red tights stretched hard over her head, begins gadding about the stage playing an entirely unamplified recorder solo. From nowhere, there’s a blast of coldly industrial techno, and our performer returns to the mic, augmenting the thump with an operatically virtuosic soprano. The scene is jarring, wild, thrilling, confrontational, outlandish, captivating, and – handily – feels like the Late Junction radio experience made flesh.
The performer in question is Gazelle Twin, whose responses both to Brexit and to pernicious English nostalgia via disquieting pagan grime and manic Maypole choreography cap a programme of boldly outsider music that here basks in its nonconformism. Before her, Hen Ogledd offer an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to freakfolk chamber-pop DIY medieval futurism (as you do), providing equal servings of windswept moor music and bucolic romanticism, wild incantations and righteous headbanging post-punk, and Chaines opens the evening with glitch-addled guitar and flute, all digitally deconstructed underneath impressively looped vocal lines. The sheer pluck of the former is enough to charm a well-oiled, broad-horizoned crowd; by contrast, the latter’s slightly aloof persona, somewhat nightmare-by-numbers arrangements and an early stage time all combine to rather stymie their ability to engage.