„Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records describe themselves as purveyors of ‘secular drones and spiritual pop’. Wild Anima, the opening act at Cafe Oto on the label’s first London showcase, describes herself on SoundCloud as a ‘bird pop’ act, and though her accompanying performer waves feathers around with a New Age mysticism for the last of her three songs, her eerie soundscapes with euro pop melodic sensibilities typify the breadths of the label’s coterie musically.
The other word to describe this particular night would be eclectic, with subsequent acts Unfollow and Benjamin Finger delving into the denser drone-ier recesses of the label’s roster, before Trupa Trupa rounded the night off with sludgy and catchy post-rock. While Wild Anima began proceedings with an ethereal ambience, the unifying element of the rest of the night was intensity and noise. And while Wild Anima soothed and mesmerised, Trupa Trupa pulverised and screamed with their Slint-sounding, Kraut-y proggy post-rock, with occasional slacker riffs and rip-roaring choruses, obscured yet further intensified in a grungier more abrasive mush.
Trupa Trupa, playing their first London show following last year’s LP “Headache”, seem destined for larger venues than the typically intimate Cafe Oto. The catchy choruses on ‘The Sky is Falling’ could have been roared out at a festival and the mind-bending album title song ‘Headache’ warped time, luring you in and swirling the senses. With rave reviews received from trendsetters such as The Quietus, the Gdansk quartet seem well placed to continue Poland’s latest wave of genre-pushing artists like Stara Rzeka, RSS Boys and Merkabah.
Speaking of Poland, Unfollow and Benjamin Finger both felt like artists suitable for Krakow’s Unsound festival, delving into the darker reaches of techno and noise. Toronto-based Unfollow in particular sounded more suitable to an industrial club night while the Norwegian Finger pounded away at his touchpads creating frenetic feedback, whirling around the genres. It was with these two acts that Blue Tapes’ self-description of ‘secular drones and spiritual pop’ makes most sense.
But the main act, and the one that you suspect might make the label a bit of money somewhere down the line, were undoubtedly Trupa Trupa. While the mix on the night felt a little heavy on the keyboards, with the more intricate vocal and guitar melodies sometimes lost in the intensity of the sound, they still managed to sound like a progressive and ambitious band with plenty of catchy riffs and choruses up their sleeves.
On ‘Wasteland’ and ‘Rise and Fall’, they managed to drop the volume and let the melodies truly come through, recreating the more balanced sound of their LP. One senses that if they can find the right balance between the grungier and softer elements of their live performance, they could definitely earn more London showcases for their label’s expansive roster.”