Instrumental music proves to still be instrumental in producing an outstanding gig.
It’s surprising how much energy can be produced in a concert by two artists whose sound centre on pure musicianship. But that is what was on display when Islington Assembly Hall was left devastated after And So I Watch You From Afar and Mylets performed two impeccable sets.
Mylets, the alias of musical wonder Henry Kohen, is a one-man tour de force of math rock. With a distinctive sound that is incomparable to any other artist. Through the usage of only a drum machine, a guitar and a seemingly infinite amount of pedals, full tracks are produced which are both complex and monolithic in their sound. With each song building up eventually, with more and more layers looped and drum tracks developed upon, the songs start bare but end up as an elaborate display of musical prowess. This coupled with Kohen’s sparse, yet incredibly impassioned howling vocals, create an incredible wall of sound that bombards the audience. New tracks such as ‘Arizona’ and ‘Trembling Hands’ sounded beautiful live, with Kohen’s trancelike vocals complimenting the sheer depth of his sound mesmerizingly. At only 20, it is outstanding to know how successful Mylets will become if he continues his path to musical revolution.
Then stood the headliners, And So I Watch You From Afar, with their own brand of inspired post-rock-cum-math-rock. The band have never been one to refrain from putting on a blistering show, and this night was no exception. Opening with a trio of songs from upcoming new albums ‘Heirs’, the tracks set a precedent for the evening, with the delectably intricate rhythms and varying dynamics to their sound, volume and tempo still ever-present in these tracks. Whilst their entrance may have been muted by these unfamiliar tracks, they more than made up for that in their energy in playing these tracks. Guitarist (and occasional vocalist) Rory Friers himself tiptoed forward past the stage and clambered along the barrier still immaculately devastating the guitar, instantly making the crowd that much more unruly.
The band moved on to play a section comprised of tracks from older releases, with ‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’ and ‘Search: Party: Animal’ making the crowd erupt and mosh in euphoric celebration. The resurrection of EP highlight ‘S Is For Salamander’ resulted in a similar necessity for movement. This song seemed to emphasise the varying degrees of greatness of the band, with the song swapping on a whim from high-octane wailing guitars and crashing drums to assuredly calming guitar melodies. However, the undercurrent of these sections were almost that it was the calm before the storm, as any avid fan could tell you that in most tracks there is a bubbling tension which is just waiting for the crowd to leap about.
All photos credit to the wonderful Holly Balcombe. Thanks for the help.
Fans were cooed into thinking that the band would finish their set with new album track ‘Tryer, You’ a song said to represent the story of the four-piece, with the ambient humming of the guitar and resonating effects make this track heart-warming. But it wouldn’t be an ASIWYFA show without a venue-destroying encore. As such, the band obliged by racing through destructive renditions of beloved tracks ‘Big Thinks Do Remarkable’, ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ and ‘The Voiceless’. If you know any of these songs you’ll comprehend just how chaotic these experiences were. It almost feels like ‘Set Guitars to Kill’ was created with the sole intention of breaking as many people’s bones as possible, with its constant understated shifts in tempo, and powerful drumming that pushes the track onwards and pushes the audience into beating the shit out of each other. This encore summarised how spectacular the evening was, with older sacred tracks lovingly mixed with experimental new ones to the immense reception of the crowd. And So I Watch You From Afar can do no wrong.