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Review: Jotnarr, Mezzotint, White Noise Winter – Colchester Arts Centre – 18/06/2021

It’s been 469 days since I last watched an actual gig with a crowd and bands playing loudly. It’s been a very long 469 days. Colchester Arts Centre have apparently been making good use of that time, this test event an occasion to try out the fancy new lights and PA system and to ease us in to the fact the toilets have switched sides. While it’s a seated affair, they’ve certainly not simplified the musical offerings to match, with a mixture of noise, gothic new-wave and black metal to get stuck into.

Opening the night is White Noise Winter, a solo project of Daniel Clough, who announces that he has one song to perform before creating noises into a microphone. Layering synth sounds he creates an interesting soundscape befitting the moniker which sorts of whirrs to what feels like a climax before a lush sounding synth line starts up. The layers of synths which build up from there sort of alternate between sitting perfectly and fighting each other, occasionally creating some excellent dissonance. Certainly interesting music, I’d love to know how much of the set was pre-written and how much is improvised on the spot. A strong start to the night.

Next up are Mezzotint. Opening with just the vocals, yet no vocalist on stage, I was a little confused to begin with but, as Gemma walked onto up the stairs and onto the stage and the rest of the band started to play it became a bit more clear. They’re an interesting band as far as lineup goes, with two guitars, bass and vocals performed live alongside a drum machine and, as far as I can tell, some synth tracks, It definitely works though; the robotic repetition of the drums fits the sort of new-wave sound the band have, especially alongside the bass, driving the song along allowing the guitars to add the detail. The vocals are strong too, there’s a real raw emotional quality to them that works perfectly with the music. Given that this was their first gig I really look forward to hearing more from Mezzotint.

Finally, entering the stage complete with entrance music and a cape, Jotnarr closed the night. Of all the bands on the night they were perhaps the one least appropriate for a seated show but in a real act of perseverance there are quite a few people headbanging away in their chairs. The new material is sounding great; one of the new tracks has a guitar part that reminds me a bit of early Pelican (albeit complete with vocals). Considering it’s been a hell of a long time since they played a gig they sound like they’re fresh off of tour (okay, other than the ten minute long discussion about whether they could play an encore), the songs sound tight, they’re performed as energetically as ever.

I’m glad that, after such a long break, I could return to live music with such an eccentric lineup of music – a massive thanks to Colchester Arts Centre for arranging it! As far as the changes they’ve made in the last year goes, the most obvious is the lighting which, as well as apparently making the move the environmentally friendly LED, felt like it had a lot more depth to it, with more beams of light bursting off stage into the audience as well as emphasising the band. Nice work.

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