- by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date: Label:
Emma Ruth Rundle has been making waves for some time now, having released a number of albums with different bands as well as under her own name. Her music has absorbed everything from ambient, folk and post-rock while the singer-songwriter has cited the likes of David Lynch as an artistic influence. Tonight Rundle rides her dark horses through the iconic Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
When I arrive, tonight’s first support act has just started warming up the venue. The volume and power apparent from the start, Dystopian Future Movies aren’t here to mess around. Led by vocalist/ guitarist Caroline Cawley, the Nottingham-based band sweeps me up in a rush of sprawling post-rock.
Their sound moves from graceful, quietly doom-laden slowcore to explosive, post-metal grandeur. It’s a drama I’m more than happy to get lost in. A great start to the evening and an undeniably epic performance.
Jo Quail has to be one of the most fascinating musicians I’ve inadvertently stumbled across in some time. Utilising pedals and effects while playing a particularly striking and unique looking electric cello, Quail weaves her strings through a series of hypnotic loops, dark tones and skittering beats.
Metallic, semi-industrial clangs and rhythmic iron-lung breaths create layers and depth of sound as Quail’s strings move between mournful beauty and avant-garde atonality. An absolutely gobsmacking set of mesmerising, instrumental experimentation. In other words, wow.
The dark rumble of ‘Fever Dreams’ sets the tone, Emma Ruth Rundle and her band creating a heavy and absorbing atmosphere. I’ll confess, it’s the first time I’ve heard a lot of these songs; attending the show on the back of glowing recommendations and Rundle’s reputation. I’m not disappointed.
“I want to share a song with you” Rundle tells us before playing the majestic ‘Darkhorse’ “I wrote it for my sister”. Some well-used slide guitar adds to the murky yet magical melancholy. Heavy hymns drawn from troubled times and personal experience.
‘Control’ provides an early highlight, a phenomenal exercise in tense atmospherics. The guitars weighty and substantial, providing a satisfyingly hefty dose cathartic post-rock. ‘Dead Set Eyes’ is introduced as a song about “leaving LA and all the problems I had to run away from”.
Personal catharsis runs throughout Rundle's work and that feeling is, of course, rather contagious. I’m not familiar with the songs and I can’t hear every lyric yet the emotional punch of the material, the feel of the songs, is impossible to deny. I’m clearly watching an artist I need to explore in much more depth.
Rundle tells us that she loves visiting England but says she always gets really nervous. Comparing the feeling to the tongue-tied sensation you get around a crush. You really wouldn’t have guessed it though, her voice an emotional and powerful presence throughout.
‘Light Song’ brings the set to a close with an almighty sea of feedback but they haven’t finished with us just yet. Returning to the stage the band serves up a huge, breathless and suitably thrilling ‘You Don’t Have to Cry’. For a spine-tingling second everything drops out and Rundle pines, “burning just for you my love”.
The drama and noise subside as Rundle delivers tonight’s final song on her own, a stark and rather striking ‘Real Big Sky’. Rundle’s music may be dark yet there’s strength, empowerment and beauty at its core. The songs may come from a difficult place but this is the sound of someone taking the reins and kicking their demons into touch.