Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: The Ambience Affair at The Workman's Club Dublin

The Ambience Affair bring their tour in support of their début album Burials to The Workingman’s Club in Dublin with support from two of Ireland’s best acts Katie Kim and Jennifer Evans.
Katie Kim delivers her first song kneeling on the floor hunched over a microphone, fiddling with a loop station  Her coal hair covers her face completely. She resembles a performance art piece, laid out between the stage monitors, almost removing herself from the visual equation altogether – indeed it must have seemed like the stage was empty to those standing several rows back

And so begins what turns out to be an astounding performance perhaps the finest performance I’ve ever seen by a solo artist. Katie Kim’s voice is powerful subtle and emotive. Her simple one,two classical guitar style allows her to weave magical, elegant vocals, above the sombre funeral march below. Her lyrics are classy stimulating daggers of love/hate romance, regret and expectations. Her ability to build four-part harmonies with a loop station is astounding. Only great singers can utilise loop stations in this way. Perfect-pitch, is the true skill required in using these devices in this fashion. And Katie Kim has it in spades.

Songs from her forthcoming double album Cover and Flood have surpassed those of 2008′s critically acclaimed début album Twelve. We are really excited to hear the fully formed songs with the band. If tonight is anything to go by the album will be five-star.

The sublime simplicity of Katie Kim is followed by the countless chords of Jennifer Evans. Evans is an accomplished jazz and rock guitarist whose songs draw together eclectic influences tn the way the songs of Jeff Buckley once did.  Evans is backed by an impressive rhythm section called The Ripe Intent.  On stage she is restless like a fidgety tigress. When she sings syncopated Noir-ish refrains Ella, Amy, and Feist spring to mind. Yet strangely, between songs she is humble, with the shy speaking voice of a woman who doesn’t realise, how good she truly is. “Tomaseli Has a Friend” is the highlight of the material from 2010′s Salient Point EP.

Kicking straight into “Weeds” the opening track from their début album Burials The Ambience Affair make it instantly clear that they mean business this evening. Singer Jamie Clarke’s eyes appear as if they may explode in their sockets at any given moment, such is the physical intensity of his vocal delivery. Single “The Fallen” is an early highlight. It surpasses the recorded version due to Clarke’s added live intensity.  The delivery of the lyric “I wanna fall for you” is both chilling and stalker-ish.

A feel good cover of “Feel it all Around” by US hipsters Washed Out offers a sugar-coated disco distraction from the darkness. While “Prophet” The Ambience Affair’s first post album material, offers us an exciting glimpse at the future. Indicating that the band have grown significantly since Yvonne Ryan joined on bass and keys.

Other highlights include “War Weary 2″ and semi instrumental  “Tearing At The Seams”.  However the intriguingly titled “(…)” ends the evening on a high. It’s a beautiful mournful ballad which displays a gentler side of The Ambience Affair and in particular a more sedate vocal from Jamie Clarke.

An excellent performance by one of Ireland’s most intriguing bands.

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