My fellow Icelandophiles Yunioshi celebrated the launch of their EP ‘Reykjavik’ by inviting Icelandic electro heavyweights and tourmates Bloodgroup, for an additional end-of-tour finale date in Nottingham. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to write about such a lovingly curated evening – here is my review online for Clash Online, with the full text is below. I also had the privilege of shooting the gig – my first time! You can see the gallery here.
Bloodgroup – Live at Nottingham Contemporary
Visceral, all consuming
The Contemporary in Nottingham is, once inside, an impressive and welcoming space, with huge ceilings, warm arty lighting, and buffed concrete adorned with installations. It’s a perfect setting for tonight’s special guests Bloodgroup, who hail from that hive of educated, idiosyncratic creativity, Iceland. Bloodgroup are playing the last show of their twenty-five date European tour tonight, invited by Nottingham natives Yunioshi, who are themselves celebrating the launch of their latest EP ‘Reykjavík’, named after the city they themselves find so inspirational.
The show opens with support from Andy Wright, aka We Show Up on Radar. A deceptively dark, quirky lyricist, he finds beautifully detailed stories and significance in the ordinary; his dramatic imagery wrapped up snugly in the protective blanket of his charmingly endearing delivery.
It’s this dark quirkiness that links Wright’s set effortlessly with Yunioshi’s. A band with a love of fuzzy lo-fi spacefunk; their performance is wired up and intense, epitomising that obsessiveness inspired by their namesake from ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’. Single ‘Worms’ draws us into a world where girl/boy vocals drift over what could easily be a 1983 B-movie, and ‘Invisible’’s bleepy stylophone melodies are underlined by twisted guitars and a pounding percussiveness dispensing just the right amount of unnerving sinister (owing in a large part to drummer Rob’s astonishingly imaginative use of his three drumsticks). The waves of synthfunk and dreamy 8-bit, amalgamated in a delicious marriage of blips and Beck-esque beats, with a healthy dollop of looking-over-your-shoulder menace, have the crowd grinning and grinding with joy.
Yunioshi are also a visual band – from vocalist Rob’s trademark suit and green visor, to the real-time-loop projection behind the band. Bloodgroup are, too, visual, but more subtly so. For this last-night show, they have each decorated their faces with eyeliner, but as you watch them feel and breathe what they are playing, it’s the band themselves that have you transfixed with their energy. Their brand of electro is energetic yet classy, and it’s no surprise to learn they’ve sold out a number of the European shows, including several German venues and have played at The Roundhouse in London.
Their skill is evident; this is a visceral, all-consuming performance – perfectly executed. Sunna’s glacial vocals lilt with Janus’ over understated tracks ‘How Do We Know’ and ‘Dry Land’, but ‘This Heart’ and ‘Battered’ have her powering over fiery, pounding basslines and syncopated melodies, all four musicians writhing and crouching with the fabric of their rhythms. The energy tonight borders on apocalyptic – ‘Pro Choice’ is probably as angry as you ever want in a pop record, while ‘Ain’t Easy’’s more straightforward party vibe commands you to jump for joy as you half-expect paper streamers to appear.
It’s a great shame that a band with this much vibrancy don’t have more UK exposure – the nature of the geography doesn’t help of course – but thanks are due to both Bloodgroup and Yunioshi for bringing something this organic to the UK electro scene and reminding Nottingham there is more to Iceland than Sigur Rós.