Live Music + Gig Reviews

Gliss @ Notting Hill Arts Club, London

28 February 2006

It’s probably not possible to bring down the foundations of the Arts Club with just rock-bottom bass-lines, sonic squeals and louch cool alone. Nevertheless, Gliss’s super-heavy brand of industrial, scuzzed up rock and laid black indie cool is enough spill Hugh Grant’s chain store coffee, shake the cobwebs from a sleepy mid-week crowd and instil a bit of the dark side to the more respectable end of London.

Hailing from Southern California, Gliss are anything but sunshine and teen drama. Atmospheric, upbeat and at times just downright dirty, it’s a sound as much in debt to the electro soundscapes of Depeche Mode as it gives a big stark pat on the gloom-laden back of Britain’s new angular darlings Editors or their forebears Joy Division.

They all swap their instruments and pose with an American cool-as slouch that has typified the more sinister US guitar bands for decades, but it’s not easy to win over a crowd of Notting Hill’s finest – especially when you’re blasting them with a wall of noise that literally feels as big as it sounds.

Tonight, at a showcase event courtesy of online supremoes The Orchard, Gliss follow Ryan O’Reilly, a young acoustic troubadour in the Willy Mason/Bob Dylan mould, who, while undoubtedly a good songwriter, is no match for the tidal wave of reverb drenched lead riffs, clattering, foot stomping drums and scuzz that Gliss blast out track after track.

In fact, they are let down in part by the size of the venue and its mismatched PA system. While Gliss are playing like they have filled up a stadium, they are in fact in an undersized basement in West London, and the fuzz extends to Martin Klingman’s usual swarthy vocals and the occasional lost riff.

But, technical difficulties aside, Gliss have some truly gorgeous melancholy to give. Kissing The Blvd, with its sliding guitar and echoing stance, is a high point, as is the hazy Peeping Tom. It’s part goth, part indie and part psychedelic progressive, funk laden poseur pop, and well worth poking your head through their wall of sound.

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Gliss @ Notting Hill Arts Club, London