East India Youth | Live Review & Photoset

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Photos (c) Will Fahy

Unusually for Thekla, Bristol’s floating venue, East India Youth (aka William Doyle) has only drawn in a sparse crowd. Perhaps inhibited by the pouring rain outside, it is surprising that more haven’t turned up considering Doyle’s rapidly growing reputation for dance music that fuses harsh electronic minimalism with mournful lyrics. The sparse crowd is matched by the sparse setup, with just mic, Mac, keyboard and bass guitar, all under the control of Doyle himself.

Doyle is an expert in creating consuming soundscapes and inky melodies, as exhibited in opening track ‘Glitter Recession’. Following track ‘Dripping Down’ is perhaps his best known, and it fits so perfectly with tonight’s precipitous conditions and waterborne venue that it could have been written just for this gig. The lyrics “You have been left just a little shipwrecked; but you keep on floating; Find new love; dripping down your soul” are brilliantly evocative in this environment.

An intense young man, dressed in a sharp suit and tie set to conjure images of a studious prefect, his playing on ‘Total Strife Forever II’ could equally be recognised as that of a church organist beckoning worshippers. When members of the audience talk over his slow-burning song build-ups, he stares intently at them, and the only surprise is that they don’t immediately turn to stone. This intensity is mirrored in his playing – when playing bass chords he headbangs like a schoolboy mimicking Angus Young, and he is generally a flurry of movement.

There is a dense layering of sound, particularly on tracks like ‘Looking for Someone’, although it is unclear how much of it Doyle is playing live – his hand movements certainly don’t match the sound for much of the performance. Nevertheless, what he really deals in is atmosphere, and for ‘Heaven, How Long’ he is entirely lost in fake fog. The high point of the night is also the final point of the short fifty-minute set, fast-paced track ‘Hinterland’.

Having played Bristol several times already this year, Doyle is a busy man. With a host of upcoming festivals this summer, including Field Day and Latitude, it is unlikely that he will be playing to a sparse crowd the next time he graces Bristol. He is already a gifted and dedicated performer, and if he continues to add interesting, engaging material to his catalogue, he will certainly be one to watch for the future.

Check out the wonderful ‘Heaven, How Long’ right here: