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LIVE REPORT: Mary Epworth & Sink Ya Teeth at Oslo
Patrick Clarke , January 25th, 2018 17:41

Nascent brilliance and blistering chaos on a rainy January night in Hackney

Mary Epworth

A sense of the nascent brilliance and stretching potential that underpins Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth is unavoidable. They’re only a pair of fine singles into their career – two cuts of drifting, danceable post-punk that run a gratifying line between groove and gloom – but it’s what to come that’s most exciting. They slip onstage at Oslo almost anonymously, it takes a moment for the crowd to even notice they’ve arrived, before embarking on a slick, short set that has all the hallmarks of something excellent in the making.

There’s the odd misstep – a beat out of time, a note or two out of place – and while Gemma Cullingford’s basslines are crisp and precise, they’re occasionally left lacking in texture. That said, there’s moments where Sink Ya Teeth burst out of their shell into the stupendous force they could become. At one point, Cullingford’s bass is transformed into a heaving behemoth as it slides and grinds from top to bottom, and when the duo break into the searing, soaring sound of their forthcoming single ‘Pushin’’, vocalist Maria Uzor takes to its helm with supreme presence.

Mary Epworth’s headline set is maximalist in the extreme. Styled by Natalie Sharp, aka Lone Taxidermist, Epworth leads the group in otherworldly electric blue, her bandmates in blaring silver that lands somewhere between an alien retro-futurism and the most gauche excesses of glam. Their lift-off is somewhat deadened by technical difficulties, but before long they’re pummelling their way through the manic swarm of ‘Gone Rogue’.

Epworth’s second album Elytral had its share of unhinged moments, but when she takes that turn live she accesses a different sort of intensity. When Epworth’s band explode, as they do straight out of the gate on ‘Gone Rogue’ with saxophone blaring skywards atop a muddy cataclysm of primal drums and a tidal wave of electronics, it’s one hell of a barrage. Moments like this are dotted throughout Epworth’s set, and each is more superbly crushing than the last.

It’s filling the space between these gaps that’s tricky. Elytral is capable of delivering a brilliant bombardment, but it also has moments of serene, ethereal beauty; ‘Me Swimming’, for example, is a particularly sublime piece of melancholy pop on that record. In a live setting, such is the strength of those aforementioned blasts of blistering chaos, it can be hard to find the headspace to sink into the subtlety of the counterpoint. But each of these warring styles has a wholeness of its own, even if one is occasionally drowned out by the other.

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