A band ‘guided’ by the light of the European stars-Music that was guided by the energy of consecutive dreams

Experiencing the magic of Scratch Massive’s music live, was on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time now. Maud and Sébastien’s gigs are sold out in France but the duet had never performed live in London before so, we were incredibly happy that our wish to see this band live, came true.

Polygrains a gentle, electronic and experimental opening

Polygrains_1A few minutes later than the announced stage times, Polygrains, a.k.a Dimitris Moschas, a talented singer, songwriter and producer, filled the stage with electronic, synthpop and techno soundscapes. Polygrains has released his new album entitled ‘Future Endeavours‘ in January 2019 and we got a nice glimpse of it during his live set. Dub rhythms enriched with vibrant sonic samples, gave their place seamlessly to synthpop melodies which were, sometimes transformed into funky ones and other times they were dressed with an air of mystery filled with blasts and pulsating sounds. On top of these melodies, the vocals appeared intermittently only to deliver a few verses and add one more dimension to the sound, before giving their place to a new set of sounds and melodies that had a different energy and flow than before. Experimentation, improvisation and a nice rhythmic flow characterized the sound of this solo project that was a great choice as an opening act for Scratch Massive. There were no visuals this time to accompany the set but this only made us focus more on the rhythms. If the music of Polygrains was a painting, it would have been a cubist one, where the image can only be synthesized by acknowledging all the parts and shapes that form it.We noticed and we appreciated the good communication with the audience and we look forward to enjoying Polygrains live again in the future.

Scratch Massive and how the sound of Manchester in the 80s met the sonic atmosphere of Carpenter’s films

Scratch Massive a.k.a Maud and Sébastien are ‘children’ of the techno era, who appreciate the rhythms and the vibe of techno but also share a fascination for the qualities of shoegaze and the Madchester scene. Maud has a background in cinema and journalism and a fascinationScratchMassive_1 with the music of John Carpenter . Sébastien has been organizing rave parties and DJing since the middle of the 90s. All this of course does not mean that a band can create sensational electronic music, sensual, danceable, melancholic, dark and evocative; and yet Scratch Massive achieve exactly that.

Obviously this band has been inspired by something darker, almost well hidden, within electronic music, at the same time that others were focusing just on the vibe,the pills that accompanied the parties and the dancing. Since 2001 Scratch Massive have been consistently releasing albums with increased dream-like qualities and a recognisable atmosphere. It is the ‘chase’ of this unique sonic aura that has allowed this band to carry on and leave a strong mark in between music genres, especially after the techno and acid house trends have ‘died out’.

ScratchMassive_2Coming out on stage wearing a dark blue bomber jacket with the stars of the European flag at the back, Sébastien immediately made a statement about everything that concerns the problems in Europe lately and the very relationship of the UK with it in particular. The front of the jacket had the word ‘Études’ on it and the stars at the back were ‘glowing’ by being illuminated by stage lights, were at the back . This was a powerful image that was imprinted on my mind and cannot easily be forgotten, especially since the audience of this gig was made up of young people who live in Europe and who have been proven to be unwilling to alter the course this country has decided to take…

While Sébastien was ‘conversing’ with all these ‘magic’ buttons in front of him that ScratchMassive_3altered, added and removed sounds, Maud was the more serene force in all this. Her ethereal vocals that appeared intermittently throughout the set, had otherworldly qualities that reached the doors of our subconscious.

The audience of this gig in London, was made up of people with diverse music tastes, a proof of the unifying power of electronic music (“Techno conveyed a message of revolt and social equality…everyone gathered to dance…” Sébastien, extract from an older interview in French). The setlist covered mostly the last two albums ‘Nuit des Rêve‘ and ‘Garden of Love‘ (also on our playlist for October 2018)  and a surprise: the fact that the band remixed most of the songs and instead of immersing us in the glorious slow rhythms of their music, they lifted the energy of the tracks skillfully and carefully and created some magic. The energy was high from the very beginning and as each track followed ScratchMassive_4the previous one seamlessly, more and more people started dancing. I have said it before that audiences in London are quite difficult to motivate, even more so on a weekday and on a venue that is not a club, but in this case it did happene and it felt great! Some might like the more synthpop/dream pop elements of the band’s music, others might lose themselves within the trip hop, downtempo parts and others, fans of the electro/industrial scene might find the heavier more ‘raw’ elements of the band’s sound more appealing. Scratch Massive’s tracks were presented to us ‘dressed’ with happier, carefree sonic colors and rhythms that discreetly allowed all the darker parts of the songs to come through, almost like in a dream.

We listened to ‘Pleine Lune‘, ‘Paris‘, ‘Break Away‘, and the album ‘Garden of Love‘ almost at its entirety before the setlist closed with a surprise track, a remixed long version of the much earlier song of the band ‘Girls on Top‘ from ScratchMassive_5the 2007 album ‘Time‘. It was the moment when everything was put back in its place conceptually. The band, with this song, placed itself on the continuum of techno music, right at the point where it meets its catchy pop self. Let’s not forget that this band started its career by setting up an event called ‘Naked’ at the exclusive (at the time) lesbian Parisian club ‘Pulp’ when its owner decided to open this up to upcoming new talents in music. The song ‘Girls on Top‘ feeds into the aesthetics of this club,into its logic (it was run entirely by women), as well as on emancipation and sexual liberation, in a playful and pop way. The way that it was transformed with additional industrial textures and volume was the perfect way to end this gig, creating a sort of dark psychedelia that could have easily been transformed into a sonic maze for anyone who dared to let their mind go…even on a weeknight!

 

Félicitations chers Scratch Massive, à bientôt…

You can see more photos from this gig here.

Blaue Rosen box

 

Spread the word by sharing this