Niki & the Dove live in New York
- By Paul Smith -
- Mar 22, 2012
On the voyage to a SXSW invasion, the fleet of gigging Europeans made a Williamsburg pit stop. Why trek to Texas when most bands play New York first?
Clock Opera’s white noise was devoid of charm, something that couldn’t be said about fellow Brit, Charli XCX. All torn leggings and Van der Graaf generator hair, she thrust like a super hero through her set of fizzy electronica.
Stockholm’s Niki & the Dove closed the showcase, hosted by Neon Gold Records. The trio has released a slew of EPs, came fifth in the BBC Sound of 2012 poll and is preparing a debut album, Instinct, for release in May.
To the undiscerning ear, Niki & the Dove could get buried in Scandinavia’s history of immaculate pop. But they’re no flat packed, mass-produced export. This is music to ride a unicorn to, dealing in fantasy as much as evoking forests, hills and the deserted landscapes of faraway climes.
Their aesthetic suggested a catastrophe involving PVA glue and the contents of a party bag. Singer Malin Dahlström was drenched in feathers, finger lights, glitter, face paint and glowsticks. She wore an oversized badge on her hip depicting a pony, and a chain of multicolored beads hung below her elbows, which tangled as she flailed her arms.
Gustav Kahrlöf, her keyboarding sidekick, looked comparatively sullen, surrounded by so many synthesizers, he could have attempted a moon orbit. The pair whispered to each other between songs, stretching and distorting synth lines into a continuous drone. The set only comprised half a dozen songs, but the process of watching the music unravel and be reconstructed was gripping and unpredictable.
“Who wants to go to the mountain top,” Dahlström trilled, before launching into the ‘The Fox.’ Its verses jittered, slithered and strutted. She cracked her beads like shackles, then burst into a feral wail of a chorus. This tension and release persisted throughout the show, most thrillingly on 'DJ Ease My Mind'. By then, the colored beads had snapped off, and Dahlström was free.
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