Kiasmos // Live Review

Village Underground – 29th November

Of all the things we prize in music, it’s a song’s ability to suspend emotions in amber that we treasure most. To feel that unexpected ache of nostalgia – followed by the bittersweet warmth of familiarity – triggered by a series of notes is a sensation that I suspect none of us will ever tire of. And yet, as magical as it all seems in the moment, ultimately it’s the context you bring to the piece that moves you, not the skill of the musician. No, the real magicians are the artists who can transport you to unknown landscapes.

Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen do precisely this on their collaborative debut. Carving breathtaking vistas out of cavernous beats, soaring strings and subterranean bass rumblings, ‘Kiasmos’ is imbued with a widescreen beauty akin to watching a succession of vivid panoramas. In the candlelit confines of the Village Underground, tonight they supplement our internal imagery with live visuals, variously depicting deserted mountain ranges, seascapes, volcanoes and grainy forest clearings. These pastoral projections prove a hypnotic focal point during the duo’s predominantly sample-based set and, the second ‘Lit’ flickers into focus, we’re entranced.

Arms aloft, bobbing, swaying: it’s as if we’re being conducted by Kiasmos. At the visceral climax of ‘Thrown’ we literally are, with the entire room incited to clap along by a pogo-ing Arnalds. The cyclical slow-burn of ‘Looped’ and glitch-riddled techno of ‘Swayed’ receive a similarly rapt response, but then so too does the stately, elegiac ‘Held’; an impressive feat, considering tonight’s 1am start.

Having all-but exhausted the album, Arnalds and Ramussen end with the fantastically-frazzled sprawl of ‘Burnt’. Already in excess of nine minutes on record, tonight’s rendition boasts an elongated outro, hewn from deep bass, clicking beats and chopped-up, unintelligible vocal samples, and comes accompanied by visuals depicting dawn breaking. As the great ball of light emerges from beneath swirling cloud, the music stops, the spell is broken, and we all return to the London we left together, just under an hour ago.


Buy: Kiasmos – Kiasmos

Live: St John Hackney Church – March 13th 2015