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  • Kepla
Philharmonic Music Room

Tucked away behind the grand Philharmonic, tonight the Music Room plays host to Liverpool’s own experimental trio EX-EASTER ISLAND HEAD for the launch of their latest album TwentyTwo Strings. With their previous record Large Electronic Ensemble being released back in 2014, Twenty-Two Strings feels long overdue to the crowd eagerly anticipating their return to the stage.

With support from Liverpool-based producer KEPLA, the mood is set as the rather sophisticated audience take their seats in the intimate setting, which mirrors the set-up of a jazz bar. As Kepla begins his set, the avant-garde audio and visuals immediately capture the audience’s attention as he takes us on a mysterious journey of desperation and despair, with urgent scurries and dramatic dynamics creating an uncomfortable yet captivating ambience. Kepla’s uninterrupted set develops a story through moody undertones and uncertain images, reflected through crystal formations that fade into darkness as each timbre swims in and out of the sound scape. The set comes to a sudden stop with the echo of crickets leaving the audience with a feeling of serenity, ready for Ex-Easter Island Head to take the stage.

As the overhead projection comes into focus, Ex-Easter Island Head are mirrored from a bird’s eye view, enabling the crowd to see exactly how each sound is created. With the band’s unusual line-up of drums and four guitars laid onto tables; soft beaters caress the strings, generating a synth sound whilst also providing a beat which the drums proceed to replicate. The unusual timing opens up space for floating motifs, repeated at different pitches using the contrasting tunings of the guitars. As the hi-hat keeps tempo, melodies interweave with sweeping hooks rather than one singular main riff.

The band keep the focus on their stage presence with every motion mirrored by each member, forming what can only be described as an innovative and eloquent synchronised dance. With a mixture of bold, striking arm movements and graceful shuffles along with the unusual beat, Ex-Easter Island Head deliver an exquisite performance, engaging every single audience member with their tranquil yet strangely powerful execution of each track.

Continuing the theme of uninterrupted performances, the trio incorporate a wide dynamic variation into their set, which acts as a subtle indicator for the beginning and end of each composition. The clever use of the filling of soundscapes with diminished and desperate sounds allows room for more expressive movements from the group, amounting to the gig becoming more of an avant-garde performance art as opposed to a classic album launch. As the expressive motions become more and more sporadic, a dramatic climax is reached before the set comes to a sudden end, with the crowd’s cheers echoing through the intimate Music Room.

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