Music | Live Review: Shield Patterns @ Wharf Chambers 18/09

Lyrical, ethereal techno spins into the corners of a moody room deserving of a far bigger audience. The first glimpse is of the striking, hooded soprano. She dances, trancelike, totally living in the weird, Gaelic-esque reverberating melody, curling her hands into the air as if conducting each intimate beat of the percussive techno backdrop. Shield Patterns boldly and coolly pull away from the monotonous rhythms and bass heaviness of ordinary trance, and instead make musical shapes with awesome, metallic sounds, light strings and a mysterious – if a little nasal – high voice.

Each song is a piece of art. Production is top quality, bizarre and unpredictable and features stunning dark and light shading, giving it a deep and soft colour. The group´s penultimate song, ‘Vimana’ fills the half-empty room with musical mysticism. ‘Ghost Words’ stands out from their album, Contour Lines, with its intricate criss-crossing motifs and rhythms and restful appreciation of silence. Only the final song, ‘The Rule’ is a disappointment. The melody is dryer and less imaginative, not unlike Adele, a strange fit for the night’s generally more experimental leanings.

Unlike some of their contemporaries the trio never end up getting caught in a techno mush. However, they could finish their tunes with more focus; somewhat overly ambiguous endings left the audience wondering if they should fill the space with applause.

Whatever the ambience they are seeking to create, these performers are touching on the computerised angelic. Could Shield Patterns be on a sideways path to true originality? Haunting and confident, this underground up-and-comer has a folk-tech eccentricity to watch out for.

Caitlin Mayall



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