Take a Pink Floyd song, stretch it out to an hour and add a drum machine – essentially what you get at a Darkside performance. Which is not to say that its a bad thing at all. Its difficult to ignore their similarities -given that their even name conjures references to the Flyodian magnum opus Dark Side of the Moon. Influences aside, it is hard to deny credence to Jaar’s sonic wizardry and the restrained ethereality of Harrington’s ax when they are on a stage.
Which was exactly the way it went down at *scape when the duo played in Singapore. From an almost pitch darkness two silhouettes emerged amidst a warm glow and mist, birthing the set with a shrill birth-cry, prolonged and cacophonous. And then we were plunged into an endless strum und drang between unforgiving, explosive periods of pounding bass and teasing snatches of near-melodic chords. The bastard lovechild of ambient alt-rock and hardcore techno.
For live performances, it seems as if Darkside doesn’t come prepared so much with songs but rather templates to build upon. Tracks like paper trails were teased way past their original lengths and then more, transformed into hard hitting monsters of their former selves for the evening. The audience responded in kind, moving in time to the hypnotic beats bathed in an epilepsy-inducing post-apocalyptic light show.
While undoubtedly essential, it did feel as if Harrington could have brought more to the party – live music is the time for improvisations and self indulgent guitar solos. He played his part, but only just played his parts. Call me old fashioned but so much more was possible other than just loops and things and Ableton, maybe even throw in a floating animal or two.
Picture credits : Marcus Lin