DEATH IN VEGAS - LIVE @ OVAL SPACE
By Adam Simcox
For Britpop veterans such as Death in Vegas (and how they would baulk at such a description) to thrive in the current musical landscape, it is necessary for them to do one of two things. They either play – and prey – on past glories, regurgitating the Aisha’s of their back catalogue to ever diminishing effect, or they try and inelegantly surf the current musical wave, pulling in flavour of the month guest vocalists in a desperate attempt to appear relevant. It’s a well-trodden musical path that many, if not all, of their electronica contemporaries have taken.
DIV, it transpires, prefer to walk to a different, glitchier beat.
Ever since Scorpio Rises (easily their most radio-friendly long player) dropped, Richard Fearless, DIV’s founder, seems to have been on a pilgrimage of obtuseness. The superstar guest stars such as Iggy Pop, Paul Wellar and Liam Gallagher have been jettisoned, replaced by little-known vocalists and spoken-word porn stars. And the tone; always a darker Chemical Brothers on their most optimistic of days, Fearless has folded the act in on itself, layering each track with doomy, hypnotically repetitive beats so dark it’s as if the listener is trapped within the cogs of a pollution spewing diesel engine.
2017 DIV is as much art installation as musical act, and like art, personal taste will dictate whether you think that’s a good thing or not. Here, on an unseasonably balmy evening at the hipster ground zero of Hackney’s Oval Space, the faithful, clad in regulation black, seem to be on board. Fearless doesn’t make it easy for them, opening with the 12- minute Black Box from last year’s Transmission album. It’s more attitude than song, a lone spotlight searching the crowd in time to the industrial echo, perhaps looking for a punter who’s actually listening, rather than talking.
As the gig progresses, though, the genesis of a doom (or drone) rave begins to form. Cuts from the last album, such as the standout Transmission, work their magic, as does reimagined gloom bangers Hands Around My Throat and Reigen. By the end, as Your Loft, My Acid generates a storm-the-stage fearlessness amongst the crowd, its instigator seems to have found a way to build bridges between artistic integrity and audience entertainment.
By being dissatisfied with their past, DIV, it seems, have unearthed an uncharacteristically bright future.