Review: East India Youth – Louisiana, Bristol – 4th February 2014

WHL_6610 1Photos by – click here to view more photos from this gig. 

Review by Kevin McGough –

Ragged, dazzling, and gloriously unique, East India Youth (aka William Doyle) is a one man whirlwind of beats, melody and dark soundscapes who, while still a work-in-progress, is well on his way to fulfilling his unbounded potential.

The young Londoner has just released his casually titled debut album: ‘Total Strife Forever’ (although his tongue is clearly firmly in his cheek, rather than waggling derisively in the direction of Foals) which came out in January to rapturous critical acclaim.

Instant recognition has come as something of a surprise to Doyle, who has acknowledged that he sees his career a lot more through a long term lens rather than as being measured by short term commercial success.

Tonight he is dressed head to toe in black with a rather fetching polo neck jumper and blazer that gives him the air of a Bond villain.

No words are uttered as the epic intro swells, builds and then breaks upon hypnotic piano triplets and more deep, dark and somber piano strikes.

The light fades to black leaving him illuminated alone in a red spotlight bar the soft light of his laptop and it becomes even clearer that this mad musical scientist is musing on world domination.

As the arpeggiated drone of the intro segues into previous single Dripping Down’, the mood evens out and Doyle notes that ‘you may be moving at glacial paces but you’re not melting’ as he pirouettes elegantly on his tip toes and implores anyone who will listen ‘find new love, dripping down your soul’ before the uplifting middle-eight lightens the mood.

From the wild thrashings on Heaven, How Long? to the more sedate reflective deflation of Song From A Granular Piano it is clear that Doyle’s live sound has matured a great deal in the last 12 months from the boy in the scratchy videos you can find currently circulating on YouTube to a more fleshed out live entity – a fact he has acknowledged himself in recent interviews.

Tunes that previously sounded a little thin are bulked out with muscular percussion or subtle back drops and he now expertly glides from bass, to laptop, to keys, to vocals and back around like a swirling musical tornado.

He still lacks some of the know how to fully realise some of his ideas on stage, especially while he continues to perform alone but in fairness it would be a challenge to perform some of his complex creations with a full orchestra so he must be applauded for pulling off the trick at all.

Almost inevitably though, the first examples of being slightly overstretched technically begin to surface as his bass guitar strap slips from its fastening and the guitar crashes to the floor which in turn knocks his sequencing slightly out of whack for a minute or so. After a cool recovery he even goes as far as to up the ante as he begins to really wig out on his bass to the point where the keys are totally dislodged from his workstation and are left dangling precariously in mid air, suspended only by their wires and the collective will power of the spell bound audience. Carrying on regardless his total commitment to the moment is quite a sight to behold, as he embraces the chaos by attempting to play his keyboard with his guitar.

On its conclusion Doyle smiles knowingly to the crowd who respond with a burst of reassuringly enthusiastic applause. He is sufficiently moved by this show of affection to actually salute them in thanks.

More chaos follows as he plows on to standard closer Hinterland which stutters into life to strobing lights. It’s a great tune and is a true techno homage that wouldn’t feel out of place on a misty Tresor dance floor with its throbbing beat, club triplets and ambient swells

Just as the as gig and song starts to peak though his exuberance gets the better of him once more and a twitch of guitar nudges his soundcard off the table and silence cuts through the venue.

‘Ahhhh fucking hell!!’ screams Doyle as the crowd sighs and the soundman rushes forward to offer some assistance – something that seems a little late in the day considering the plethora of issues that have preceded this moment.

Whilst the song does temporarily lose some momentum crucially the crowd stay with him and he brings it all back to the boil before he finally lurches over his laptop and shakes it for all its worth in a rage clearly aimed at the technical deficiencies, before howling aloud he himself falls to the floor, in a manner reminiscent of much of his equipment, clutching his microphone as the last notes ring out. It’s a violent and vivid finish to what has been a startling performance in spite of the evident problems.

With tinges of Brian Eno and Fuck Buttons, East India Youth is an electro tin man with a shiny body of oscillating experimentalism that belies a melodic heartbeat and is well worth giving the benefit of the doubt. I know I would again.

‘Total Strife Forever’ is out now on Stolen Recordings.

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