ARTIST: High Places
VENUE, TOWN: The Green Door Store, Brighton
DATE: 13th February 2012
FIVE WORD REVIEW: Good Album But No Performance
MAIN REVIEW: Originating from Brooklyn – with a collaboration of Mary Pearson on vocals and multi-instrumentalist Rob Barber – High Place’s combination of percussive sounds, sustained, continuous beats and haunting vocal melodies seemed to promise an impressionable performance. Whilst this was not entirely the case, there is no denying the duo have talent. Pearson’s vocals are mesmerising at times and the multi-layering of her voice when she manipulates her vocals with relay and reverb pedals does create a surreal ambiance, especially within the intimate setting of the edgy The Green Door Store. Equally, Barber’s skills on a sampling drum pad is impressive and creates a favourable beat that makes you want to move, but that feeling wasn’t sustained.
The venue is small, but by no means sold out tonight, yet that doesn’t automatically equal a failure. The support act, Anneka, is amateurish in execution but enchanting vocally. The audience grows slightly bigger with the onset of High Places and both Pearson and Barber have a chance to connect and interact with the audience to improve the live experience. Indeed with the aid of a dusty disco ball and a slightly confusing projection of what appears to be various plants, the mood is slightly lifted and the audience’s anticipation grows. But once again we feel let down.
The syncopated beats are persuasive and Pearson’s melodies are harrowing at times, but without a climax, the mood remained the same throughout. There’s no musical or emotional crescendo throughout the set and this isn’t helped by the lack of interaction from the duo. Admittedly, a live performance involving electronic sounds, control pads and contact mics is going to be less audience interactive than say, a band with a lead singer, but even so surely it is still necessary to sell it?
Ultimately, the set appeared flat and the songs just seemed to run on, one to the other, with no sense of atmosphere being created – which is a shame because the ‘DIY compositional style’ does work in creating interesting layers, it’s just that interest wasn’t maintained throughout the performance.
High moments were ‘Banksia’ with its crisp-beat intro and ‘The Pull’. These are both found on their latest album ‘Original Colors’ which is definitely worth listening to. And from that, you will pretty much get the same experience as if you had seen them live.
– Jessica Osborne Lax
Photos by www.rachael-emily.com