After walking in Gorilla to find Samaris’ lead singer of just nineteen rushing through her homework, it was hard not to expect an uptight performance tonight, mirroring the Icelandic band’s young age, with the three-piece barely touching twenty.

However, clarinet player, Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir, explained to me after the gig, how the band are “very calm” about their age, and that literally shone through tonight, with her and her female counterpart, Jófríður Ákadóttir, the lead singer, emerging on-stage in striking long glittery silver skirts and producer Þórður Kári Steinþórsson in a casual hoody, calmly taking his place behind his laptop.

Describing themselves as an “emotional techno band”, Samaris are a band who compellingly stitch clarinet, lyrics taken from Icelandic poems, and electronics together to produce a unique encompassing soundscape. The band’s first “album”, more a combination of two EP’s and remixes, received acclaim for its wide-scope yet competent nature, and the results of ‘word of mouth’ were here to be seen tonight, with the band drawing a larger audience than the average support act.

Opening the set with a song from their upcoming new album, which they consider to be their real debut, Jófríður echoed her cold Icelandic vocals around the venue, the power of which stunned this Tuesday night crowd into silence, before it was perfectly fused with Áslaug’s elegant clarinet playing. Then came the epileptic beats, as circles of white-light began to race around Gorilla’s locker-room resembling backdrop, as the song began to interweave past and present perfectly, with the band making their first successful foray into the audience’s conscience.

Continuing their set with another yet-to-be-named track, the second song of the night started with a swooning yet compelling clarinet intro, telling of the even-further experimentation expected from their upcoming record, before electronics started to contort and twist with the melody, as Joffrieur meditatively held her hands out, rotating them showing palms and knuckles. As levels increased, the lead singer, in-between vocals, began to unconventionally twist on her tip-toes, ballet style, a dancing technique not often performed in unison with a techno rhythm, before the beat fell away to leave clarinet and vocals alone to produce a beautifully irresistible acapella-like ending, only increasing my anticipation to hear this album in full.

After paying tribute to the experimental Múm, who produced their first EP, Samaris played the melancholic opener from their perceived “debut” album, ‘Hljóma þú’. Opening with a spine-tingling clarinet rhythm, backed by just slow automated drums, Jófríður stands solemnly silent before making her impact with a ghostly chant-like vocal, which allows the song to evoke the scene of a recently finished bloodshed war, with grenade smoke still hanging in the air and Jófríður’s affecting vocals echoing the pain felt by the soldiers’ mourning relatives. Here the production is reduced to a thudding drum and theatrical high-hats, before the vocals are echoed and wriggled around the clarinet, allowing them to live on as the walk through the death-ridden war scene reaches its end.

 The emotion is quickly brushed aside as the crowd respond with large cheers, before Jófríður kindly declares “We hope you enjoy the rest of your evening” before the first synths of ‘Solhforv I’ eek out of Þórður’s laptop. Accompanied by stabbing snares, here the lead singer is angrily spitting her vocals out at a frantic speed, before she sends a piercing hound-like wail around the arena as if to inaugurate the garage-sounding drums, which soon arrive. Jófríður then takes a back seat, allowing the speed of the drums to crash through the restrictive sound-system to reach an intense high point, before a final whine from the clarinet soars over the now-declining drums to herald the end of a successful Manchester debut, endorsed and appreciated by the crowd.

After the show, Aslaug thoughtfully declared “It doesn’t feel like we are really young, I guess we just sort of fit in” and on this showing, the band really did fit in along with electronic heavyweights like Jon Hopkins, performing an enticing and ambitious set, which catapulted them into more co-headline territory than simply supporting what’s yet to come.

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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.