Live Review: Percolator @ Coughlan’s, Cork 28th April 2017

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Percolator’s debut album ‘Sestra’ is out now via Penske Recordings.

At the moment Coughlan’s is a bit of a ray of light in Cork City. A bastion of live, original music, the venue has become one of the most important in the country over the last few years, not just in Munster or Cork. It’s a cosy room, with an old fireplace in one corner, and a blood red colour scheme excellently conducive to the emotion of a live band. Reminiscent of the wonderful basement venues scattered throughout the UK, tonight it plays host for the kraut rock/shoegaze of Dublin trio Percolator who are celebrating the release of their rather stellar debut album Sestra.

In support are local quintet The Sunshine Factory. Mining a particularly moody and dark form of neo-psychedelia tinged with the anxiety of post-punk, the group create a swirling and claustrophobic atmosphere driven by the propulsive rhythm section of Steve Flynn on bass and Mark Waldron-Hyden on drums. They have a couple of absolute gems, like the pensive and languid ‘Cruelest Animal’ and the restrained ‘Some Kind of High’. On June 8th, they’ll be playing Rebels for Repeal at Cyprus Avenue in Cork. Go.

In the live setting, Dublin’s Percolator are a significantly more adventurous beast than on record. This is not a criticism, but a mere statement of fact. Personally I love the focus of their debut album Sestra, which is restrained in a latter day Sonic Youth type of fashion, but also adore their live approach in which noisy passages are noisier, experimental breaks are longer, and yet melody is never neglected.

After opening up their set with the moody sturm und drang of experimental instrumental ‘Spulmaschine’, that’s German for ‘dishwasher’, the trio quickly dive into the one/two punch of ‘Law and Order’, and ‘Yellow Fire’. These are two of the more melodic offerings on Sestra, with ‘Yellow Fire’ delving into dream pop tinged territory, while ‘Law and Order’ explores a slightly more dissonant shoegaze influenced sound that takes a bit of a noise detour towards the end of the song.

Two new numbers are next, namely ‘Pullin & Draggin’ and ‘Gilmore Girls’. Both are instrumental and focus more readily on the avant garde New York noise influences of the trio. Having said this, the songs do possess a pretty solid backbone. These are not completely off the wall noise freak outs by any stretch of the imagination, but exploratory noise by the way of the rigidity of kraut rock. The balancing act is endearing and arresting.

‘Crab Supernova’, probably Percolator’s catchiest number with it’s beautifully ethereal vocals from drummer Ellie Myler, and it’s simple, propulsive rhythm action, appears next. It brings a bit of familiarity back to proceedings and pulls anyone who may have gotten lost during the new songs back into the fray. Closing the evening is ‘Binkle’. A long an exploratory jam, the track is Percolator’s tour de force. Incorporating both melody and noise in equal measure, the song is everything glorious about the trio all wrapped into one neat package.

At the end of the day, Percolator are one of the most intriguing and melodically arresting bands in Ireland at the moment. Both live and on record. Buy their album, go see them live. That is all.

Order Sestra via Bandcamp.

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