Tonight was one of The Talent Scout's unsigned band nights (seemingly in partnership with Flag Promotions who run Club Noir). Which probably explains the wide variation in styles and the overly enthusiastic groups of followers each band had.
Young techno rock 'n' roller's 26 Feet kicked the evening off and whilst they didn't miss the metaphorical ball entirely, they certainly didn't kick it very far. Egged on by a handful of close fans (friends?), these enthusiastic upstarts certainly played the part of a chart-bound alternative rock act well enough. Assets include the talented male vocalist and some beefy drums. The first 20 seconds of several of their songs suggested investigations into cut-up, bleep and sample activity but these tempting intros were rapidly discarded in favour of rock 'n' roll poses that made sense of their Led Zeppelin looks. Competent but boring and clearly an odd choice alongside the rest of tonights acts. 26 Feet should do better elsewhere and could generate some supportive press.
Apple notebook / synth / projector - this was more like it. As ndot's tailor-made CGI projections rotated the ndot logo and smoke made club feel like the set of a cheap sci-fi movie, I made sure I kept my hopes in check. But, following on from 26 Feet, this evening must have been a case of 'WYSIWYG' as a heavy bass drone backing brought us into a more familiar, and welcome, soundscape. ndot are Andrew Ward (programming, electronic instruments) and Mel Skye (vocals, acoustic instruments) and they make for a intriguing partnership. The trip hoppy chillout sounds were enhanced by a dark attitude and brooding vocals that meant ndot came across like a slightly sinister cousin of Broadcast. Skye's flute, first introduced on their second song, hinted at other influences, and the nonsensical but pleasantly drifting vocals inevitably recalled the Cocteau Twins once or twice, maybe even Dead Can Dance.
The brightly-coloured computer graphic projections conjoined with antique retro sounds to produce a curiously 80s feel to the set. Now, I admit I'm no style guru, but the denim-clad singer with her groovy hairdo undoubtedly added to this effect. (Going by my knowledge, she's probably the height of fashion so I best stop talking about appearances and stick to the tunes.) With their current promo CD, having been produced by the legendary Chris and Cosey, it's probably fair to say that ndot do appreciate their 80s quality electro. Big beats ensured that it wasn't an entirely relaxing set and the plinky plonky synths appealed immensely. I was impressed but not hooked, and before they finished I'd returned to my seat. From a distance ndot didn't work so well - the loss of detail hampered the overall effect. Nevertheless, ndot were by far the best thing on the night.
My interest now more readily peaked, I waited with interest for the final act to come on. Seize are another two-piece: a bloke and an babe, vocals and synths, projections and beats. The singer had a SEVERE fringe thing going on that I could only attribute to an obsession with Betty Page. This combined with a very 80s gold lamé drop top meant we were confronted with tonight's second challenging fashion conundrum. Musically, I flashbacked to New Zealand alternate popsters Headless Chickens but with more electronics, although the reliance upon mundane synth sounds (presets?) did little to inspire. After the polished professionalism of ndot, Seize were, to be brutally honest, something of an embarrassment. How they managed to top ndot on tonight's bill I don't know, but whoever made that judgement needs a reality check. Seize's set included a few moments of reward, like the laid back slow beats of the third track, but they were brief. The female vocalist was okay, but the songs were largely amateurish and in need of a lot more work before further public exposure. A low end to an extremely varied evening.