Ok, cards on the table, a confession, as Todd Rundgren once put it, “I was born to synthesize “, from Hot Chip to chip tune, from OMD to IDM to EDM, from Eno to the Orb, the sheer variety of beats, rhythms and pulses has kept me hooked for years.
So with great anticipation I headed to St Pauls in Worthing on Friday for the return of iconic Club night “Synthesize me” promising an evening of “Bleep, Boings and Beautiful Noises: The Entire History of Electronic Music” and I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed. Brighton’s own Synthesize me has been bringing the noise since 2010 and it only gets better.
Decked out in full party mode with lights, giant mirror ball, balloons and cabaret style tables covered in sweets, St Pauls was ready for DJ Casper Gomez to get things started with a carefully considered vinyl mash-up; resplendent in western villain black cowboy hat his enthusiasm and love of the music soon filled the dance floor
Then we had a short set by Jack Elgar, local polymath, musician, producer, and alumni of Northbrook College, Jack gave us a mix of Electro-Industrial/Agrro-techno fused with ambient textures, think Skinny Puppy crossed with Neu! Unlike his other projects, Ard and Font 21, Jack’s, solo set is just him, in a day glow orange T, hunched over his mixer.
After the Kling/Klang of Jack’s set, Carlo De Ganja’s dub filled mix of lovers rock, reggae and synth-reggae got everyone on their feet, his sound system bouncing beats around the superb acoustics at St Pauls.
Next up was Monzen Nakacho, master of Giallo-Synthwave; imagine Tangerine Dream mixed with Solar Fields and the spirit of Blade Runner.
Monzen debuted three tracks from his eponymous album, opening with “Gulag on Pluto”, its symphonic rich soundscapes swelling and ebbing in hypnotic waves, then “El Carpentiere” no doubt a homage to auteur John Carpenter with echoes of “Dark Star” and the superb stalking rhythms of “Giallo”, for those who don’t know and I didn’t, Giallo is a 20th-century Italian thriller/ horror genre often combined with slasher,/crime fiction and supernatural horror elements, that inspiration is clear in the music. This track manages to evoke a nostalgia for those early schlock movies with a retro futuristic pulsing, sinewy grandeur that is worthy of Orbital.
Casper Gomez returned with a set of 1979 to 1982 electro classics, it was great to hear, Soft cell, Blancmange, Human League and Visage, cue much shuffling and early 80’s dancing.
At last it was time for the headliners; Brighton based Transformer, disco-tronic party starters, think Hot Chip/Scissor Sisters meets Bonzo dog doodah band
This trio, Johny Giles – vox/keys/programming, Craig Doughty – bass/bvs and Stephane Houdrille – drums have been around since 2005 and as a live act know exactly which buttons to push.
They hit the stage in their “frock coats and bibbety bobbity hat”, all feathers and flash, opening with “Down” quickly followed by the electro- funk of “Dragonfly” and “See the level”, prime showmen, we get the works, bass runs, trumpet solos and squiggly keyboards, all with a knowing wink and tongue firmly shoved in cheek.
Frontman Johny Giles introduced new single “Do 4 You” a fusion of their trade mark disco grooves with a driving bass and pulsing synth and chant and an impromptu verse of Happy Birthday.
The band roared through “Invisible” and “Popper”, inviting members of the audience on stage to play percussion for” GVNMNT” and a never to be forgotten forehead keyboard solo, that needs to be seen to be believed. Finally finishing with the Devo-esque throb of “Cinema Car”, most famously performed by the band on the Xmas prom episode of Inbetweeners.
With Johny asking the sound man to turn it UP! and a finger burning bass solo by Craig, they soon had the crowd singing along with the insidiously hooky chorus. The audience needed more and they returned for a high hat and snare driven “Deepak” and then they were gone.
To close the evening DJ Reverend brought back the muscle memory of early 90’s rave culture with a banging mix of classic tracks from 1991/92 – great music, fantastic atmosphere as it always is at St. Paul’s