Silver Apples bring their iconic whirs of the past into a rich technicolour future, Getintothis’ Will Fitzpatrick finds so much to treasure.
Ah, for the life of a post-punk curio.
Chiefly famous (if that’s the right word) as the guitarist in the original line-up of The Fall, Martin Bramah never quite managed to reach the same degree of notoriety as his former cohort Mark E Smith.
The curmudgeon’s curmudgeon spent the 80s defining post-punk and the nascent indie scene, while Bramah’s own Blue Orchids drifted into relative obscurity.
It’s a mystery as to what provoked this partial reunion, but on tonight’s showing that’s all academic: we’re witnesses a great rock’n’roll show. Swirls of hypnotic organ drone are propelled by rousing, cyclical bass lines, and punctured by deranged howls from their clearly energised frontman.
So far so psych-by-numbers, right? Well, sorta, but that’s not really the point, and besides, it’s interesting to view their expansive, mind-bending drama as a neat foil to The Fall‘s taut, minimalist clatter. Fascinating, even.
Blue Orchids live at the Kazimier
And then there’s Silver Apples. That’s SILVER. FUCKING. APPLES.
For those of you still fidgeting at the back, they’re essentially the forefathers of electronica and one of the most groundbreaking bands to have emerged during the psychedelic era.
Lucky to have ’em here? You betcha – credit to the EVOL folks for pulling this one off.
Consisting solely of 74-year-old Simeon Coxe III these days, the band swiftly evolved from the standard bar band template into a cacophonous duo, wrapping the bleeps and atonal whirs of nine oscillators around fluid, intricate rhythms that would anticipate both the synthetic kosmische of Kraftwerk and Suicide‘s proto-punk rattle.
Since drummer Danny Taylor‘s death in 2005 and his own partial paralysis as the result of a road accident, Simeon’s approach to the music has simplified, relying heavily on more direct keyboard playing and samples of his band mate’s practice tapes.
As such, the Silver Apples sound has lost the loose, mutant rumble of live percussion, but this is more than made up for by the new techno pulse underpinning the songs’ barely-amended arrangements.
Silver Apples live at the Kazimier in Liverpool
Familiar favourites like Oscillations and You And I are thus magically transformed from intoxicating oddities to thumping anthems, additionally fuelled by the tangible glee passing back and forth between the onstage veteran and an adoring crowd.
His love of playing still clearly the driving force, Simeon is a captivating frontman, which is more than can usually be said for one man stood behind a pile of gizmos.
New song The Edge Of Wonder manages to sound both retro and incredibly modern, reminding us of the exact point at which wide-eyed psychedelia crosses over with the ever-futuristic vision of prime electronica.
Ultimately, you can hear Silver Apples‘ influence in the likes of contemporary acts like Animal Collective, or even Liverpool’s own GIT Award winners Loved Ones.
But as long as Simeon‘s this committed to enthralling, otherworldly pop, let’s make sure we treasure him. This was one hell of a show.
Read Getintothis‘ interview to Silver Apples.
Pictures by Michelle Roberts.