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LIVE REPORT: The Besnard Lakes
Julian Marszalek , November 20th, 2015 11:54

Julian Marszalek reports from the 100 Club

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Photo by Maria Jefferis/shot2bits.net

There's a strange sense of comfort to be had encountering The Besnard Lakes as they hit the 100 Club on a damp and miserable Monday night. In one respect it's good to be re-acquainted with familiar material that harnesses the gorgeous and mellifluous harmonies of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas – here bolstered by additional vocals of keyboardist Sheenah Ko – with the soaring sonic explorations of guitars that seemingly bend the fabric of time. In another respect there's the knowledge that the material from their forthcoming fifth album, A Coliseum Complex Museum, is far from being an exercise in laurel resting.

Shorn of the billows of smoke and dazzling light shows that have come to accompany them over the years, here The Besnard Lakes stand exposed and as a result there's a greater focus on the music they create. The opening one-two of 'Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent' and 'And This Is What We Call Progress' sound mightier than they ever have done, the latter track in particular being ushered in with a colossal wave of oscillating guitars that threaten to shake the subterranean environs of the venue. This isn't some re-treading of former glories but a consolidation of what makes The Besnard Lakes so special.

But there's also prescience here, too, for progress is what The Besnard Lakes are here to display. 'The Plain Moon' and 'Golden Lion' are tracks that move away from their template of elongated and epic sonic journeys to deliver something altogether more compact and upbeat than anything they've been involved with before. Though still retaining the hypnotic quality that beats at the heart of their music, this is music that's infused with a sense of joy and immediacy. Likewise 'The Motorway' which builds itself up to several peaks of chiming arpeggios and three-part harmonies that cascade from the stage like sweet summer rain.

Clearly, the experience is much of a pleasure for the band as it is the audience. On more than one occasion, Lasek and Goreas turn to face each as their respective guitar and bass lock into a rhythmic groove and it's as much a testament to their personal relationship as it is the music that they're creating and the whole thing coalesces into a beautiful entity during a magnificent reading of 'Albatross'.

Speaking to the Quietus in 2013, Jace Lasek noted that the studio-based construction of their material meant that the songs keep evolving as the band keep playing live –and this is certainly true with some of the older material played this evening - but as evidenced by tonight's performance of new songs, these are already sounding rounded and fully formed. That said, quite where they'll end up a few months down the road is anybody's guess but it's sure bet that, like everything else about this gig, they'll be nothing less than compelling.

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