Live Review: Standish/Carlyon, Joe McKee

12 July 2012 | 1:39 pm | Ching Pei Khoo

Supporting act Joe McKee first casts us adrift on a wide ocean with an inky sky above, his a cappella crooning only mildly nudging us like peaceful waves lapping the side of the raft. He calls the musical style of his friends and main act Standish/Carlyon “wonderfully bleak”, but when the comfortably attired duo take to the stage in the smoothly lined interior of the Toff, there is nothing grim about their performance.

Vocalist Conrad Standish is armed only with a bass guitar and an indiscreet laptop on a side table, while Tom Carlyon deftly attends to his electric guitar, a keyboard and a granular synthesiser throughout the evening, but the music they create gives the illusion of a myriad of instruments being lovingly caressed. They hardly speak a word to each other nor exchange glances onstage but they are both instinctively connected to each pulse as evident in their soft, rhythmic nods with eyes cast downwards and their impeccable musical timing.  As Standish had earlier attested in an interview on PBS FM, they are both “pretty chilled”' onstage, as they are in person, and they certainly craft their music to be similarly laidback.

Most of their tracks are deeply atmospheric, with low bass notes often underscoring Standish's sparse, repetitive lyrics and gradually pulling back to allow Carlyon's synth manipulations to gracefully arc through and eventually segue into their following track.

Standish/Carlyon are two-thirds of the indie band Devastations, and they have spent much of the last ten years in the UK and Europe polishing their craft of ambient music to much success. The duo's latest offering is decisively pared back.  All the tracks showcased are from their forthcoming debut album titled Deleted Scenes, which will be released later this year. For anyone looking for a relaxing, mellow start to the week, don't miss Standish/Carlyon during their July residency at the Toff.  See you next Tuesday.

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