There was a time when you knew what to expect from a Warp Records act: One or two serious looking young men concealed behind laptops and banks of equipment, cranking out electronica (at times beautiful, at times brutal). But the times they are a-changing, and the last few years have seen Warp move even further away from their roots with a host of acts that have taken the label into uncharted waters. No act exemplifies this trend more than their latest signing Gravenhurst.
Nick Talbot (aka Gravenhurst) maintains some Warp traditions – he is definitely a serious looking young man in the traditional mould, but that is where the similarities end. With just a guitar and microphone on stage there’s little cover to hide behind, and so the Bristol based troubadour launches straight into his set. If anyone had been expecting a set filled with dazzling electronics and heavily processed rhythms then now was the moment to cast aside their illusions.
Acoustic folk tinged indie is probably the easiest (and worst) way of summing up Gravenhurst. Plucking at his guitar to produce beautiful melodies that are hauntingly familiar (despite this being my first experience) and singing with a voice that resonates with emotion. Sadly, acoustic balladry does not suit a venue like Cargo, especially when the audience are probably as unacquainted with the music as I was.
After the respectful silence and applause of the first few songs, the steady murmur of chatter grew ever louder, until, belying his mild mannered appearance, Nick let fly with a four letter salvo at the crowd. Duly chastised, the crowd settled down and he was able to finish his set, no doubt winning over many new converts.
With his first release on Warp due in the shops in the next couple of months, a lack of familiarity should soon be a thing of the past for Gravenhurst. On the basis of tonight’s show it looks like Warp have found themselves another winner, whether their legions of die-hard electronica fans will agree is another matter entirely.