“Ve Are Notvist” are the first words from lead singer Markus Acher, who sports glasses along with a host of other members from the German veteran band. Expectations are diverse tonight , varying from those expecting skull-crashing drums often associated with German bands, to those expecting the glacial calm present on most recent album Close to The Glass, and of course the lush You, The Devil & Me.

Opening with the last song of Close To The Glass, a move not often seen, Acher’s voice alters remarkably from harsh speaking German voice to tranquil English sounding vocals; here, the song’s dulcet electronic tones  are endearing and when joined by a lush pebble-clashing sound, which wouldn’t be out of place on Nicolas Jaar’s ‘Space is Only Noise’, we enter a soundscape of wonderful twee electronica offering hope to those like myself desiring for a night of glacial calm from our slumped position in the seats at the back of Deaf Institute.

From that we go to title song ‘Close to The Glass’ more angular and sharp in its formation, with threatening drums and testing electronics, which are soon joined by handclaps to produce a sort of Acid Arab convergence, this song grows into a cataclysmic ending illustrated by flashing showers of blue light and the frightening tottering motion of the keyboard which looks set to tip; a perfect chaos

No break to revert back to slumped position as a roll of drums leads us straight into lead single ‘Kong’, which sees the band showcase their friendlier indie side. The drums are punching, guitars delightful and as Acher’s vocal ‘I Believe in this’ ends, sounds of signals and frequencies over roar the guitars and shocks of white light help lift the veil of darkness overshadowing Deaf Institute’s giant disco ball as the song finishes with a hip-twisting ending.

‘Boneless’, however, smacks of mediocrity and stutters to bring the wonderful train wreck we have seen up to now, to an uneasy stop.  ‘Pick Up the Phone’ carries on this trend, however a frenetic ending breaks the aimless fragility and sees the band return to their peak.  The orchestral war music theme of ‘Into Another Tune’ comes next, which grows from simple orchestral cries to a Balearic sonic fuzz as swords clash, and sounds joust playfully with one another to produce a tingling climax.

The next song opens with a free-flowing style, which sees the bands instrument engaging in conversation, tailing down notstraight roads, yet diverting off-road at every opportunity. However, by the end of the song, the band channel their early heavy metal days, as the perfect chaos we saw at the start disseminates into a hellish nightmare, as drums roar and Acher scratches a rotating vinyl and the keyboard pumps an out of place trumpet noise, as the band seems to ignore the crowd in front of them and play to themselves and as two members cower under the keyboards at the wall of sounds, I can’t help but want to join them.

That was by no means a nice shock and the relief in offer from Close To The Glass opener ‘Signals’ does nothing to heal the wounds, as the dystopic buzz of noise continues to thud through the building. However, calm is finally restored in ‘Gloomy Planets’, which is beautifully threadbare and vulnerable and sees Acher’s voice soar at its highest point of the evening making a vocal like ‘all the cars in new york’ something which sounds claustrophobic and as chaotic as parts of tonight’s performance, seem slumbering and moonlit.

‘Casino’ one of the weaker numbers on Close To The Glass comes next and fails to thrill, but in its acoustic nature continues the therapeutic effect of relieving the sweat from the brow after the earlier onslaught. ‘Run Run Run’ shifts the mood, and is at it’s most beautiful when Acher ‘oohs’ and a sound resembling a cloud of dystopic gloom hangs threateningly over us, before it is pushed back emphatically revealing glances of white light on the disco ball as the Notwist produce their most captivating dance groove of the night throwing playfulness on what has otherwise been a disturbing/wonderful evening.

The rest of the night never reaches the heights of ‘Gloomy Planets’ and ‘Run Run Run’, and the twists and turns become utterly exhausting with a number of closing songs such as ‘Seven Hour Drive’ finishing with the band rocking out, as if each member had to prove their worth, instead of turning towards the subtler finer elements. By the end, you felt as if you were not involved, as if the band were playing to please themselves, as the beautiful chaos at the start disseminated into a self-indulging chaos and the finer elements which stand-out so beautifully on their records was lost in the battle, with the crowd  left tailing even further in the distance.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.