The opening night of a short tour by electronica performer Dos Floris, with more dates to follow in the spring next year. The Lexington is one of those cool London venues with a legacy of many musicians playing on their way upwards.
Opening the show was Orlando Seale, with a stage decorated with inflatable animals and swimming aids, he introduced an unconventional support set, with elements of performance art keeping the audience on their toes. He was accompanied by a clipboard-wielding actor who chose to commend or reprimand Orlando on the quality of his performance as well as a second guitarist wrenching unearthly electric sounds to complement the calm and simple delivery of some haunting songs such as the sublime ‘Wrestling’.
He has recorded a superb EP and more with a full orchestral backing, tonight’s show was a complete contrast but nonetheless as effective.
If watching Orlando was like being part of a play by Samuel Beckett, the one-woman powerhouse that is Dos Floris took us onto another heavenly plain altogether. Florence Donovan is an excellent singer and pianist, as showcased later in the show with the stripped-back ‘Human Relations’ but her use of electronic loops, layers and textures brings her debut album to sparkling life this evening. ‘To The Wolves Part 1’ sets the agenda of sweeping soundscape and holds the audience riveted, their silent attention being testament to the compulsion of the occasion.
There is a pleasing unpredictability to the live versions of the tracks, with so many keyboard buttons that can be pressed to twist and enhance. The bass pulse of ‘That Day’ rocks you to the core, the anti-war message of ‘All The Kings Horses’ still cuts through and ‘Before You Loved Me’ is stunningly effective. The album title track ‘The Widowed Earth’ weaves its ethereal spell and when the show is all over somehow those haunting sounds are still echoing around this fine venue as Florence leaves the stage.
Opposite the well-established Boogaloo music pub on the main street in Highgate is The Red Hedgehog; an unassuming bar/café and the venue for the second night of a showcase from multi-instrumentalist and singer Dos Floris.
The set featured tracks from her majestic debut album ‘The Widowed Earth’, performed with striking confidence, depth and power. The show divided into a lighter and darker half, reflected by the costumes and new arrangements of these organic soundscapes. As a pulsating light back-projection links to the vocal sounds early tracks ‘Rivers’ and ‘The Other Side’ gently draw us into her world. Florence has complete mastery of the complex looping, multi-tracking and keyboard playing needed to bring everything alive, demonstrated to great effect on the faster post-apocalyptic groove ‘That Day’ and a funky version of ‘All The King’s Men’ (featuring the tones of a metal-stringed walking stick?). As the music grew in intensity and the back projection ended up like virtual barbed wire to reflect the anti-war sentiment of the lyric we were ready for a short interval.
On resuming the empathetic soundman seemed to crank up some of the denser bass tones so we could wallow in the gorgeous ‘Before You Loved Me’ and ‘The Widowed Earth’. In an older unrecorded song ‘Starlight’ the audience boosted the lightshow with glowsticks, then the superb ‘To The Wolves Part II’ was a natural choice for the finale, with an encore of the new ‘Human Relations’ pointing the sound in a different direction for the forthcoming album.
It was a triumphant performance! Sitting back and listening carefully I could hear the way that every small sonic element fits in, looped phrases drift in and out again and fill the spaces in between; just as astronomers search for the dark matter invisible amongst the bright galaxies, in this music the whole adds up to far more than the sum of the parts…