Live Music + Gig Reviews

TR/ST @ XOYO, London

20 May 2014



It’s 3am, somewhere. The fact that it is not 3am here is a problem for TR/ST. Because that’s where this set would feel most at home. A time where you have no cares and no worries. Where you’re past the point of no return, past the point where it’s actually worth going home. Where there’s nothing left to do except dance on through.

A time where ear-wobbling beats and synths that throb like a cartoon thumb struck by a particularly large hammer make the most sense. And to be fair, for the first half-dozen songs it’s hard not to get swept up in the giddy euphoria of it.

A euphoria that is definitely singular. One of the distinguishing aspects of both of TR/ST’s albums is the way they shun the all hands together side of dance music and aim at something darker and more introverted. It is strongly apparent tonight, that feeling of a bunch of people all dancing alone, just in the same place. Not least due to the fact that it’s almost impossible to see anything of the performers. In all honesty, Robert Alfons could be up there with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and you’d be none the wiser, such is the thickness of the fog that envelopes the stage. Reduced to peering at shadows boxing around the stage, there really is nothing to do except get your head down and listen.

There’s plenty to admire there, though. Geryon, from the latest album (Joyland) sets the tone early, synths buzzing in the high-end of the register, Alfons’ wonderfully insalubrious murmur just about peeking out from underneath. Shoom, prickles with malevolence and a vocal which creaks like an ancient door in desperate need of some oil, while the stark, metallic thuds of Rescue, Mister shine with robotic lust.

However, in the same way he’s little more than a shadowy outline for most of the evening, there are also large periods where you can’t really hear him. Which is actually a more pressing problem. Because that voice is the other major factor which helps to distinguish Trust from the myriad of man-with-synth acts and here it just gets somewhat buried.

The audio equivalent of turning the smoke-ice machine up to the ‘industrial accident at coal fired power station’ setting. But even despite that, it’s hard not to find something devilishly intoxicating about the dark, macabre spin Trust puts on things.

It’s also hard to deny his ability to turn a room into a sweaty, heaving mess. By the time the flickering runs of Candy Walls, and the relentless four-to-the-floor pound of the set closing Gloryhole and Peer Pressure have passed, and you climb the stairs to exit blinking into the night, it could almost be 3am.

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