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White Heat presents Sleep Party People, Tomorrow We Move To Hawaii & Ghost Eyes

Tuesday night gig-going can quite often be difficult to navigate. However, Soho's long-established White Heat club night has had a good run recently, and yesterday hosted Danish dream-poppers Sleep Party People to continue the trend. They brought with them their new album We Were Drifting on a Sad Song and single Chin, released on Monday this week, as well as an unusual choice of ghoulish rabbit headwear.

Joining the headliners were London alt-hip hop poppers Ghost Eyes, who pulled a mucky, witch-house-induced version of the Pet Shop Boys to open the night. To continue the mysterious slant to the evening's proceedings, Norwegian duo Tomorrow We Move To Hawaii fell on stage to deliver a near-on Aspergers performance of their boy / girl synthcore pop, complete with a telephone fashioned into an effects microphone. Natty.

By this time, Sleep Party People's sensitive falsetto ramblings and pared-down composition were beginning to feel a little out of place alongside the brash bass drops and attitude soaked mock spitting on the crowd. As a group of innocent-looking hirsute Danes gathered on stage to set up, I started to get the feeling that maybe the choice of support was a little ambitious for a band who - on record - tend to wind down rather than wind up.

Then the rabbit heads came out. I've always felt that theatre on stage with most bands doesn't really work, but in this case, as well as being a type of trademark; it transforms the band into an unknown quantity. That said, lots of ears flapping around synthesisers and guitars does get a little hard to swallow after a while.

Opening with minimalist falsetto vocals and toned-down synths, it's only the percussionist who suggests that something else is coming. It's three minutes of effect-driven build, and hall-like reverb before a staccato snare brings in the bass, and the rabbit ears get to work loping over piles of Korg and Roland. This has certainly changed the mood, and brings their lo-fi sound on record into a live arena in a similar way to Explosions in the Sky's live presence.

The four-piece continue their set with their latest single Chins, which layers waves of drum-machine-regular rhythms with washing synths and ethereal, choral vocals. This live version loses some of its cathedral-like composition, but pounding bass and glittering reverb compensate and bring the crowd alive. The band are also getting stuck in, and the head bopping intensifies into rhythmic machine-like repetitions and snarled facial expressions from the percussionist.

As the set progresses, songs blend into a blur of shimmering motifs; the audience is left to pick through waves of bass, mumbled singing, crackling synthesisers and an ever-present glow of guitar. Songwriter Brian Batz builds towers of layered rhythms, melodies and rattling subsonics only to break them down into halcyon piano and a wobbling Roland Combo. Somewhere in the middle of what is a pretty long set for a Tuesday night, things become a little pedestrian, and rely on a trundling beat to maintain momentum. As strata of tune after tune stack up, it's also not clear when the band will be finishing; although clear signs of fatigue are setting in behind the bunny masks. It's also dawned on me that they've almost precisely followed the track listing for the album - suggesting that this record is designed to be played on repeat and in its entirety. One last crescendo, another few arpeggios of washed out piano, a Roland wail, and the masks are off, profuse thanks given.

Making comparisons to My Bloody Valentine, for the caustic volume, drowned vocals and sheets of sound, and to Sigur Ros' stable for their maudlin arrangements gets somewhere near Sleep Party People's sound. As important though is the nod to fellow Dane Trentemøller in the rhythm and tendency to root tunes in a loop of bassline and snare. Either way, Sleep Party People bring a sombre, calculated, flyaway version of a breath of fresh air to the pop world, and are a band to watch for definite.

Check out their latest single, Chins here, on Soundcloud:

And Sleep Party People are on a small UK tour over the next few weeks:

Thursday 19th, London, Buffalo Bar
Friday 20th, Liverpool, Mello Mello
Saturday 21st, Brighton, The Green Door Store

Oliver Spall
11:03 - 19/04/12