Telepathe, The XX
Alexandra Pereira 20/05/2009
For starters, I've never witnessed such a mass crush on one person - gender of no relevance - whatsoever! Perhaps this is what makes Brooklyn girl duo Telepathe (and broodingly handsome singer Busy Gagnes in particular) so initially striking, for at the forefront of their dark,synth and drums electronica beats a powerful sexual prowess and awareness that entices boys and girls alike.
Opening with their well-known hit Chrome's on It, Telepathe instantly played up to the avant-garde joke of present Brooklyn and reminded us of Dave Sitek's influence on the music; his artistic presence is extremely blatant but equally brilliant as his familiar production use of feedback, and ambient synths screech out of the Deaf Institute's speakers. After personally seeing them at London's Concrete + Glass in October, where they supported TV on the Radio, Telepathe integrate influences from their previous outfits Wikkid and Ex-Models into the innovative new sonic experimentation that is their debut album Dance Mother. Connections with the elite of New York and London's music scenes has had both negative and positive impact on the band, whose 'hipster' vibe sometimes distracts from what is possibly, one of the best new acts of the past year. Contrastingly, their trendy mingling has served them well in terms of media exposure and it's clear from the crowd tonight that this is a gig 'to be seen at.' A bad thing perhaps, a success in some form nevertheless.
Percussionist/co-synth player Melissa Livaudais was the cuter, bouncier one of the two beating a time-perfect pulse with drum pads on songs such as In Your Line. The songs have a certain 80s dancehall (yet militant) feel to them and the result is fascinatingly like the earliest and best sound of Human League with a dash of Bjork with The March. Lights Go Down sounding startlingly like something Thom Yorke could have worked on. To further intensify the surrealist tone of their live performance and lure in the avant-garde partisan were peppered some spoken word/rap vocals on Devil's Trident, which nostalgically and outrageously reminded me of both Baz Luhrmann's Everybody Free (To Wear Sunscreen) and early Destiny's Child. Visually, the show was simplistic and gaudy at the same time. The beeps and bleats of their extensive equipment (but noticeably cheap keyboard) was loud, overpowering and complicated, but worked brilliantly with the frontwomens' understated stance and charm. Behind them was a psychedelic makeshift Powerpoint show, it seemed, throwing shapes, colours and patterns across in time with the music.
Amidst the softer-than-soft catchy lyrics are some unusual themes like living on other planets and bizarrely, taking a boy into a forest to perform sexual favours and proceeding to execute him. Wow. You can tell a lot of thought went into the percussion of Telepathe's music and this really came through in the live show. Undoubtedly a fairly pretentious show that maybe had the potential to have been terrible but worked perfectly due to the blasé approach of Telepathe's live presence.