London, The Lexington
“Apparently, our Icelandic gear doesn’t agree with your electricity.”
It’s not really a complaint from the Vök keyboardist, delivered as it is in that languid, minus-two-shits Nordic manner. But the point is pertinent: there’s a conflict of currents here rarely seen in these parts – a charge of electrical particles that shocks a typically English crowd out of its comfort zone. It’s the Bloody-Nora! Borealis.
Born out of Iceland’s forbidding landscape, Vök’s glacial sound, while unmistakably of its region, forges an identity that’s paradoxically alien. The three figures on stage are certainly of mother-ship material, stationary and rigid as pens shoved up Kraftwerk’s shatwurst, while frontwoman Margret Ran’s voice broadcasts from all compass points, hypnotising in a directionless reverie that retains improbable grounding as it pulls with ferocious gravitational force. A cathedral of sound, the beauty of her voice is so ubiquitous it’s disorienting. Like saccharine strychnine, she sounds like a euthanasian angel of mercy, beautiful to the final breath.
Circumnavigating this vocal like a centrifuge, the music pulsates with magnetic resistance, a confluence of minimalist old-school analogue through industrial gothic to striated dub-disco that finds light from the darkest sources. In a room so intimate, the effect is womb-like, as if wrapped in fleshy fluidity and amnio. Typified by the sax-led sultry pop-poltergeist of ‘Before’, the almost Brutalist architecture of the music is beyond language, a Tower of Babel that brings its own special electricity from an alien sky, with Ran’s voice weaving a sonic tapestry that makes patterns from half-missed whispers.
Transcendent and intransigent, Vök’s is a tangibly fluid sound channeling Archemides as it moves the Earth while standing absolutely still. It’s a presence that comes from everywhere and nowhere: the Northern Lights on strobe; déjà vu in situ. And once they’re plugged in, there’s just no turning off.
Apparently, electricity doesn’t agree with them. Tonight, the currents fell in line as Vök settled the argument by giving it watt for.
Aurora? For realis.
*This article is published in Record Collector (UK) and Flood (US) magazines