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Gig Review...
Ablespacer, Silhouette, Before Machines
As we count down the hours to the annual Green-fest celebrations, the forthcoming day off for most of us is a great reason to head out for a couple of lemonades and some good music.  That's ATL's excuse and we're sticking to it.

Before everyone else, we have Before Machines, who have been morphing into a very different band from the poppy young lads they were when we first noticed them.  This is a good thing.  Not that they were a bad thing before, but the more adult sounds they've got now with an expanded line-up are more likely to be conducive to long-term innovation.  'Walk The Line' is a robust post-rock multi-guitar bit of joy, while 'Runaway' is a throw-back to their poppier roots, but it's the introduction of a Moog to proceedings that brings the most intrigue, as new directions open up for them.  You should make sure you cross paths with these guys if you have the chance.

From a band experimenting, to an act that is relatively experimental, as Silhouette most definitely are something different to the average local band, from a female dominated live band, to the use of strings with a lovely big bass and cello.  We'll quickly skate over the first song technical difficulties to go straight to 'Last Breath', defiant and delicate all at the same time, but it's the range of styles and influences that catches the ear.  There's hints of club culture in the rhythms, but dollops of Bat For Lashes and Tori Amos and a folkish undercurrent to the wails all stirred together as a shadow forms from the aural mists.  Momentarily losing track, our hostess promises us two more songs, 'Under My Skin' delivering a Skunk Anansie unplugged style crash of instruments, catchy chorus and superb voice, before Shauna digs into her own back catalogue pulling out a Poet's Pocket Symphony number to close.  The forthcoming release will be good.

After all that has gone before, an electric three-piece has the potential to be rather tame, but what comes is no disappointment.  Returning from hiatus with an essentially all new set, opener 'Flat Under' is a noise-nik attack, mixing early Snow Patrol with experimental Radiohead and Depeche Mode.  'Needleshift' is too good for the B-side they've relegated it to, perhaps they're worried that it's too close to the aforementioned Radiohead, but that's no bad thing for the rest of us as a hypnotic groove underpins the cacophony.  They continue to explore with walls of distortion, unsettling noises and abrupt stops, asking us "that was a wee bit experimental, did you like it?". We witness a deservedly more confident band, even toying with some James Brown as a guitar tuning interlude, before closing on single 'Draw A Line' a machine-gun metronome rhythm section acting as Regan's lifeline to soar off into the yonder.  It's been a while lads, don't leave it as long next time.

William Johnston

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Gig Details
Venue: Auntie Annie's
Location: Belfast
Date: 16/3/2010

Related Links
+ Ablespacer
+ Silhouette
+ Before Machines