What a great honour tonight is; Colchester hosting a band visiting from space isn’t something that happens every day. The audience pull out all the stops to greet this intergalactic group with people in full costume to make sure Henge feel welcome. But before we get to absorb their hopeful music we’re dumbfounded by a duo from this planet, the relatively new Elf Traps. Elf Traps aren’t a conventional band – one synth player and a drummer with one of the least conventional kits I’ve seen in a long time. The drum beats were completely mind blowing – I’ve heard music like this on record before but I’ve never heard anything in this style performed live. The drumming combined the incredible skills of the Ex-Go Go Penguin drummer, Rob Turner, and an incredible use of technology, with this being the first time I’ve seen Polyend Percs used in the wild. Liviu Gheorghe, on synths, created an incredible soundscape of glitching electronics and epic soundscapes. Apparently they’ve only been around as Elf Traps for a very short amount of time but this is a band to keep an eye on – a duo who can pull off this kind of sound live is a rare thing.
To say that Henge keep things interesting would be the understatement of the century – their setup is unusual to begin with, their bass player Goo having a whole table of electronics at his disposal, their synthesiser player Grok is surrounded by keyboards and synths almost up to eye height. Even the frontman Zpor has a bunch of vocal processing on stage that he makes full use of throughout, shifting his voice in pitch and manipulating it entirely. The music they create with it though is thoroughly uplifting; there’s a lot going on and you could quite easily stand and just dissect the sounds they deliver but all of it sums to a triumphant, joyous, feeling. Some of their tracks carry a strong message too, covering climate change incredibly well by using a story about the effects of climate change on Venus and the destruction of bassist Goo’s home planet in the song The Great Venusian Apocalypse. Their music is incredibly funky too, tracks like Get A Wiggle On and Get Outta Ma House giving plenty of opportunities to dance. Get Outta Ma House in particular makes makes excellent use of the vocal effects while backed up with an incredible synth bass sound. The song climaxes in a complex guitar/synth line with some of the best drums of the night.
The set ends in a spectacular fashion with a run of In Praise of Water, a track with an incredibly catchy melody that’s repeated by both the synths in the intro and the vocals through the verse, followed by Demilitarise which, other than being incredibly fun instrumentally, is really driven by the repeated vocal line – a real sing along thanks to Grok’s cue cards – about how humans need to stop wasting their time making weapons and instead to spread ourselves amongst the universe. It’s a real highlight of the set as everyone in the room sings the line back creating a real feeling of togetherness. I think that’s what makes Henge so special, the feeling they create and the sense of community they’ve curated – it’s hard to imagine anyone going to see Henge and leaving with anything other than a huge grin on their face. The fact that they do this while often conveying a strong, positive, message is brilliant, quite frankly.
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