Discopolis, Fonetiks, Pixels: Shipping Forecast, Liverpool

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Discopolis bring their cacophony of sirens to The Shipping Forecast, but Getintothis’ Orla Foster finds little arresting.


Discopolis have been dubbed ‘tasty’ by Pete Tong. In their own words, their music ‘sounds a bit like digital f*cking’.
These are the two soundbites which made the outlook of this gig so bleak, and the February chill bite that little bit harder all the way to the Shipping Forecast.
Still, the internet has told me Discopolis are huge in Japan, which can’t hurt, and as the wrecking ball descends over Liverpool’s every live venue, I should be glad I’m going to see a band at all.
Plus it’s nice to be in a warm cellar when there’s ice outside, even when the cutting glance of the bar girl makes it painfully obvious she knows the punters’ Monday vodka limits better than they themselves ever could.
But you’d best keep the vodka flowing for this one. We’re treated first to Pixels, a many-plumed bird, whose sound is a blazing cacophony of styles, an electro keyboard riff here, some dirty slap bass over there, the quirky time signatures so beloved of Liverpool bands creeping in, a Gloria Gaynor vocal rippling upward when you least expect or need it.
Pixels are swiftly followed by Fonetiks, an outfit gathering plenty of momentum in Liverpool right now.
They’re a band who make their presence felt as much as heard – a huge projection billows out across the stage, blending the euphoria of every chord into every percussive crunch, while discordant bleeps and siren wails are enveloped into a mesmeric shaft of noise.
They’re a little bit like a nineties club scene in a coming-of-age drama, that strobe-lit moment when the heroine escapes the dreariness of her kitchen-sink reality – with maybe a spoonful of something more recent, like Akron/Family, or M83, on the side.
Strangely, the mood dies down a little for the main act. It’s unfortunate for Discopolis, who turn out to be three soft-spoken boys from Edinburgh standing patiently behind their Korgs, that their set doesn’t come with a magnificent light display as well.
They need something – despite their poise the show is chillingly void of movement, a perfumed exercise in good behaviour, showcasing faintly wistful vocals and trance rhythms hallucinated onto a laptop.
It’s one of those gigs when the density of the electronic soundscape gets you wondering if the people behind it are themselves mechanized objects, emitting the faint hum of a gas meter softly rotating, or a kettle, freshly boiled.
Meanwhile a guy across the room can be seen scribbling hurriedly into a scroll, no doubt reviewing all that lies before him.
What in god’s name can he find to say? What he had for dinner half an hour earlier? A critique on the singer’s blue t-shirt, which features Will Smith‘s redoubtable face surrounded by a pack of flamingoes? That’s what I’d like to write about, and if anyone knows where you can buy one I’d be all the happier.
But the gentle electroid nuances keep coming, and Samuel Pepys scribbles on.
Move along folks, nothing to see here. Still, as long as the beat drops every nine minutes or so Pete Tong‘ll find something to smile about. Which is just as well. You wouldn’t like Pete Tong when he’s angry.

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