Thursday, 30 October 2008

James Yuill @ Portsmouth Drift Bar

He may not be the most extrovert of front men, but James Yuill is currently producing a live set that is innovative, interesting and full of tunes that are both mellow melodic and danceable. The chilled ambience of the evening has already been set by the support acts, the draped twinkling multi coloured light chains, the hushed attentive audience and chairs around tables at the front, so Yuill’s mix of acoustic picking and electronic beats are never going to generate a pumped up rave night club atmosphere. However he does manage to get plenty of heads nodding, a couple of people at the back dancing a little and shouts for an encore, which he politely declines.

As Yuill straps on his acoustic guitar and merges it with his banks of buttons, sequencers, sliders and faders it is fair to say that the description of his music as folktronica hits the nail on the head square on. This is a man who fully embraces technology but also understands the warmth, tenderness and humanity that an acoustic guitar can bring. I imagine his CD collection features both The Aphex Twin and Nick Drake, and they sit comfortably side by side. In fact there is a moment during his second song No Pins Allowed where it seems that Aphex Twin is in the house, as he drops in a fuzzed up disjointed synth beat vaguely reminiscent of the track Windowlicker, but because of Yuill’s gentle soft voice and melodies it never seems as harsh or aggressive as that of Aphex himself Mr Richard D James. This Sweet Love is announced to a whoop of joy from certain members of the crowd and gets toes tapping with it’s simple repeated guitar refrain underpinned by a gradually building rhythm and beat. Simple but highly effective.

Surrounded by his electronic gadgets and gizmo’s, guitar slung across his back, Yuill looks like a late 20’s floppy fringed geeky glasses wearing student; but despite his laid back appearance he is in total command of what he is doing, producing many hypnotic aural laptop lullabies, which would be just as acceptable in a bedsit as it would be in a club. This is forward thinking music for forward thinking people, and is a joy to listen to.

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