Live review: #UNRAVEL

This review originally ran in The Herald Newspaper (Scotland)

#UNRAVEL: Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 15 August 2012

Some clues that this was not your average pop show: a stall offering free #UNRAVEL Aberfeldy whisky; several posters bearing the legend, “Tweet something funny. Make a grumpy man smile”; the presence of a robot-band; the involvement of Edinburgh pop visionaries FOUND.

The evening heralded a (world-first?) phone-controlled gig from #UNRAVEL, an interactive sound installation created by FOUND with Professor Simon Kirby and their Chemikal Underground labelmate Aidan Moffat. In a former exhibition, the narrative of #UNRAVEL’s songs fluctuated according to time, weather, opinion and audience. For its debut live outing, the mood was dictated by Twitter reactions.

This may sound like a precarious premise, but FOUND’s live approach echoed their modus operandi: create brilliant, thought-provoking things, but make them user-friendly and fun. The evening was a celebration of the tension, and increasing symbiosis, between man and machine, and included terrific sets from FOUND frontman Ziggy (aka folk-seducer Lomond) Campbell, his bandmate Kev Sim (aka techno-industrial punisher River of Slime), “The Legendary” Papi Falso DJs, mesmerising visuals from Kirby and FOUND’s Tommy Perman, plus a typically heart-stopping turn from Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells (plus trumpeter-extraordinaire Robert Henderson).

The #UNRAVEL set felt like an ingenious pop experiment. It appealed to our inner narcissist, as we tried to influence the songs and have our tweets appear on-stage. Amid the classroom fun of texting praise, abuse and inanity onto the big-screen (subject matter included haemorrhoids, Donald Trump and Big Trouble in Little China), there was pause for thought: a tweet reading, “WHAT IS AN LP?”, felt significant in this transient art context, while the sight of the anthropoids behind #UNRAVEL crooning a grand finale in unison captured the human essence of their sci-fi pop feat. They were smiling.

(Four stars)

Related articles: #UNRAVEL interview (The Herald)

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