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:: Seefeel :: Tatamax ::
18 March 2011 / Islington Mill / Salford
By Cath Aubergine

Now Wave is not exactly the promoter you would normally associate with band reunions, but then this isn't your average band reunion. Seefeel first emerged towards the tail-end of the shoegaze scene, recording EPs for Too Pure and supporting the likes of Spiritualized, but with their embrace of electronics and contemporary techno influences offered a fascinating insight into where the music could go; Warp Records certainly thought so and signed its first guitar-based band. The guitars receded, the abstract electronics grew, and... well, for whatever reason, the band effectively ceased operations in 1997 leaving just a blueprint for what might one day happen. It would be a few years before artists such as M83 and Maps would pick up the electrogaze threads, inspiring a whole raft of new bands who mixed fuzz with bleeps, and since its inception in 2008 Now Wave has hosted a fair few of them: in this context it makes perfect sense that Manchester's forward-thinking promoters should host the local date for the revitalised band whose eponymous 2011 album is every bit as future-embracing as any of the new acts that normally fill their listings, and there is no better place round here than Islington Mill in which to fully appreciate this.

Twisted, semi-atonal sounds are pulsing around the industrial space - it feels like the very mothership of Warp-world tonight. The sounds, it gradually becomes apparent, are coming from the laptop of a young man concealed behind a sheet at the side of the stage: Luke Williams, sometimes known as Quinoline Yellow but tonight performing as his other alter ego Tatamax. Tatamax was inspired both personally and sonically by Autechre, and there's little in the way of a regular beat or conventional melody in the sonic sculptures that emerge from his hidden soundwave laboratory but there are plenty of textures and cinematic atmospheres in the presentation. Or, indeed, things that sound like robotic animals attempting to mate with domestic appliances. Or possibly even "that's not music, it's just weird noises". Depends on your perspective, but if it's the latter then you're probably at the wrong gig...

It's an interesting crowd: many a generation older than your average Now Wave audience, with overheard conversations covering both the number of years since they last saw Seefeel and the highlights of last weekend's Bloc Weekender, one of those holiday-camp things dedicated to all forms of electronic and future music where the chalet park resounds to the not exactly conventional holiday-camp music of Venetian Snares and Moderat. Anyone looking for a pure nostalgia fix won't get one here - "hits from the back catalogue" are few and far between, and in the case of "Time to Find Me" - a cut from that first Too Pure EP which surfaces second track in to everyone's surprise - realigned in a manner closer to the Aphex Twin remix. Some of the set has been hastily reworked due to bassist Shigeru Ishihara being unable to enter the country because of visa problems (the Japanese authorities having rather greater priorities right now than processing the paperwork of little-known musicians) but there's no point where you're left thinking "that could really do with a bit of bass there". There is little crowd interaction - lynchpins Mark Clifford and Sarah Peacock are at the outer edges of the stage and in his case largely inward-facing - but the sounds they create are enveloping and beautiful, lush and pulsating, experimental without being indulgent. Sounds to get immersed in, and here the Mill really comes into its own by providing the perfect backdrop. And not once does it feel like you're watching an old band trying to recreate something long past: against the grim backdrop of cheese-trance and dadrock that was the mid-nineties Seefeel saw the future and it's great to welcome them home to a 21st century in which they always belonged.

Seefeel (Warp Site)

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