EB takes up residence in Vienna with a night of intense—and intensely fun—music to bring down the curtain on a showstopping EB Festival 2013 season. Group EB was down the front in order to report on When Saints Go Machine, Laurel Halo, Metro Region and, of course , Giorgio Moroder. Every photos by Doron Nadav.
In the city that’s never quite shed its imperial poise you’d be hard pressed to find a more grand plus stately setting than Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. The particular largely neo baroque complex is built on the kind of scale characteristic to the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, loaning anything that passes through the courtyard an air of expansive dignity. Tonight, there’s a real sense of event as beautiful things—handsome, bearded chaps in LBDs and pearls, women wearing underwear as statement outerwear—are all united in their desire to be seen .
When Saints Go Machine
Still, such pomp and posing takes a backseat by the time When Saints Go Machine take their roles onstage. The Danish four-piece, overloaded in black sweatshirts emblazoned with “Love and Respect“, possess a quiet, unshowy magnetism that’s distilled in frontman Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild. His heat-squeezing croon, nestled in that sweet spot involving the studied quaver of Antony Hegarty and the ethereal soul of Arthur Russell, lends the glassy electronica pop of “Parix” an all as well human core—even when he bends over a bank of gear in order to time-stretch his vocals into a machine howl. “Iodine”, with its boom-bap spine, carbonated pads and heart smashing chorus makes explicit the melancholic pop splendor that frequently underpins their records. The highlight of the all too brief set is a vital rendition of their much loved”Fail Forever” the mournful cello figure doing work in the same way as Vonsild’s vocals, offering a strange, organic counterpoint to the synthesised backdrop and the crowd sway together, mesmerised.
Laurel Halo’s equipment driven set offers tough, rhythmic counterpoint to the understated drama of WSGM. Where their synths billow and swoon, her set is sharp edges and metal-on-concrete pummel. Anyone familiar with her latest recording Chance Of Rain would no doubt come expecting velocity—those enclosed atmospheres of Quarantine lengthy since dispersed—but the forward momentum of her warehouse ready fixed is breathtaking. Beneath whisps of steam or geometric patterns that comprise the large scale visuals, some attempt to dance, their limbs spasming as they find footholds within the rolling snares while others are content to observe the ingenious way the percussive elements align on techno’s grid pattern before falling into arrhythmic sputters plus bursts. This is techno’s life-force sublimated into strange new forms, given additional charge by the almost carnal analog textures, those blunt appearing chimes of “Thrax” take on the corporal heft live, “Ainnome”‘s planes of synth feels more like the shape than a sound as they clean throughout the space. Tellingly, Halo began her set playing to a smattering of people, by the time she picks up her microphone to thank the masses, the only time she picks it up, the venue is full.
Next up, a full time income legend; the Munich Machine themselves, Giorgio Moroder. At seventy odd years of age he looks like a charitable grandpa but don’t be fooled. Their late period revival, thanks to Silly Punk, is shot through along with vitality made apparent in the way he mouths along and conducts their way through his set, the particular odd gesture and flourish supported with a flash of strobe. And while his DJ set is essentially a comprehensive megamix of his most loved work, the heady blend of groundbreaking and populism leaves the venue reeling. From “Love to Love You Baby”, which is thrown in early, to Sparks’ “Beat the Clock”, via a disco-fied “Tony’s Theme” from Scarface, probably Moroder’s best soundtrack work, after that straight on through into “Together In Electric Dreams”all the big hitters are here, often slammed along with lashings of flanger effect. It is quite the ride with just a few minutes from each before the following world famous record is introduced plus we’re ripping off our clothing with excitement because, oh God , it’s “What a Feeling” from Flashdance . This is disco writ large in the stars: if you’ve got a handbag, dance around it, if you’ve got a podium, dance on it, hell, if you’ve got the white horse, get on it, provide a ride. But for all the outrageous, chart monstering megahits, it’s “I Feel Love” that gets the biggest response. And rightly so , those people carnal arpeggios, the cold, steely throb and Donna Summer’s cyborg vixen schtick feels ageless in a way that say, Limahl’s “Neverending Story” does not (but that one gets a big brighten too). It seems that Moroder enjoys it as much as us too, playing, normally, “Giorgio By Moroder”, Blondie’s “Call Me” and, um, Lady Gaga’s “Applause” as an encore before begrudgingly leaving the stage amidst chants of “Giorgio! Giorgio! ”
New Yorkers Morgan Geist plus Darshan Jesrani no doubt have a fair few dues to pay to Moroder. However , their take on neo disco is relentlessly restrained, its lines clean, its attitude chillingly cool. In short, Metro Area are the ideal proposition to stabilize the rocketing energy levels. It would be easy to crash right after two hours of back to back again hits, but they reign it back with their spacious sound and restrained, cleverly deployed samples—a string flourish there, the breathy gasp there, enough in order to suggest ecstasy. When they drop “Miura” those people hiccuping vocals and fizzing chords provoke a collective second blowing wind that lasts, among the faithful few at least, until curfew. Thanks Vienna, we feel appreciate . ~
Stay tuned for live videos from the performances over the coming days.