Entertainment, Review

Gig review: Carla dal Forno live at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen

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By James Power

Image: Carla dal Forno


After the Blackest Ever Black met The Death of Rave night at the White Hotel last weekend, the latest artist on the label’s roster to grace Manchester’s crowds is Carla dal Forno. Blackest Ever Black is a label that pushes such diverse sounds and it is a credit to them that they can host an all-nighter and intimate gig in the space of two days.

Manchester’s Soup Kitchen is dal Forno’s fifth stop as part of her ten-day UK tour presenting her debut album You Know What It’s Like, which came out in autumn last year. Support provided by Virginia Wing and Yem Gel.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, dal Forno is now based in Berlin and has worked out her own sound after being part of outfit Mole House. Her style of moody, experimental bedroom pop makes the dark, no-thrills basement of Soup Kitchen a perfectly suited venue for her performance. Pitchfork describes her debut album as “dark and ominous”, two things Soup Kitchen inarguably is.

Yem Gel is first on stage, playing his brand of beatless electronics to a handful of onlookers. The music is warped and sparse, reminiscent of artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and Holly Herndon. It’s clear from the outset that it’s going to be a night of experimental sounds and whilst some of the crowd looked bewildered, most respectfully try and find rhythm in the improvisation to nod along to.

Next on are Virginia Wing who are performing in front of a bright red row of lighting shining through the dark fog of the venue, hazing out the two band members on stage. This suits the music, which is hazy too, and comparable to old shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine and Lush, only with less guitars and more electronics.

Finally, after sound checking for herself (somewhat unsuccessfully), it’s time for Carla dal Forno. Joined only by a bass guitar, she cuts a lonely figure on stage staring ominously back at the crowd. Although her voice often plays second to the instrumentation on You Know What It’s Like, live it plays a much more prominent role. The opener and first on her album, ‘Italian Cinema’, would be the only instrumental track in the whole set.

Before long she’s into the cool, shimmering ‘What You Gonna Do Now?’, one of the two singles off her debut, and Soup Kitchen is filling up by this point. There has no doubt been busier nights in Soup’s basement but the crowd is appreciative and silently engaged. In the quietest moments, you can hear a pin drop.

The set is short, but that is to be expected considering the runtime of dal Forno’s album is only half-an-hour long. Her material is filled out with an obscure cover of The Kiwi Animal’s ‘Blue Morning’ and two new songs, ‘Make Up Talk’ and ‘We Shouldn’t Have To Wait’, which are excellent and more full bodied than songs on You Know What It’s Like. It sounds as if we could see dal Forno performing alongside a full band in the future.

Dal Forno doesn’t play music that pushes many boundaries and it’s perhaps sometimes over-simplified, but there’s no doubt she has a knack for writing and performing great songs. It’s a cold, dark and wet night in Manchester but going to a Carla dal Forno show can sure make you see the beauty in that.

Been to a gig recently? Send your review to HumanityHallows.Editor@gmail.com

 


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