Neatly ordered clusters of immaculately attired, moustache encumbered young men and distant, cool young women greet this writer upon arrival at the Sebright Arms. A healthy step from the tube but pleasingly tidy, the venues robust, aged, upstairs décor is a splendid contrast to the dark, well-appointed, subterranean stage. With a sound system potent enough to powder the skeleton, the environment seems ideal to see Plant Plants.
An unlikely duo comprised of Stu’s ultra-deep, blood-thirsty beats and Howard’s clean guitar and sound proclamations, Plant Plants set up facing each other across tables groaning with effects. Opener “Break Softly” sets things out nicely, the pair settling into their stride. Tonight, the boys pull out a selection of material from their as-yet untitled album, due out next year (look out for a video release in the near future), and initial signs are extremely encouraging.
In all honesty, coming out just for the riff from “E.B” would have been worth it. Furrowed brows are teamed with broad grins as the groove unfolds, deliberate and precise in its shadowy grind. The colossal beats of “No Smiling” and fight-or-flight triggering bass massiveness of “Sick Bay” pulse with knowing, living humanity.
If one thing was to make a lasting impression, it’s that Plant Plants are a great deal more than an engaging two piece. The temptation in the modern age is to see electronic musicians as laptop-dwelling cop-outs, piggy-backing from one expensive plugin to the next. Here, nothing could be further from the truth-the music is being made, the sounds created, and not a Macbook in sight.
Howard sings these opaquely-worded modern hymns from the very bottom of his well. Hints of The Cure’s Robert Smith and the inimitable Mr. Curtis (Joy Division) slope through the crowd like a light-less wave; the true details of the dark events being recounted would cause unyielding sorrow. It is hard to imagine what has befallen the creators of these songs that would lead to such a grim countenance, but, interwoven with the edge-riding rhythms and the prickling energy of their performance, it seems the horror was worth it.
The crowd seem uncertain when to applaud, saving their rapturous response for the finale of set-closer “One To Adore”, which follows a particularly aggressive reading of instrumental bounce-factory “Bells”. To whit, save for the uncertain response of those in attendance, this was a brooding, emotive show.