cone magazine

Review: Bella Union 20th Birthday – The Lantern

Bella Union - 20th Anniversary

The highly revered London indie label, Bella Union, celebrates two decades of existence with a 20th birthday tour around the UK.

The chosen acts for the tour – Iceland’s Mammút, Pavo Pavo from Brooklyn and Will Stratton from New York – appear to have very little in common on a first glance. Fast-paced country leads into experimental pop and then into a goth-infused psych affair. But for those who attended, the evening carried a mark of innovation and intimacy that, once fully appreciated, clearly represented the forward-thinking rationale of the label.

Will Stratton was nimble and confident with his stream-of-consciousness prose, rolling out fast-paced country numbers that both soothed and dazzled. He set the tone of the evening, something that indicated a breaking away from tradition – or at least turning it to one side.

Pavo Pavo adorned the stage with a huge appreciation for what the night meant. They seemed almost picture-perfect, but their music was anything but definable. They revealed an almost effortless finesse in delivering an anthology wide-spanning in genre, with the added effect of sounding melodically tipsy at the same time. Young Narrators in the Breakers, their latest offering, can be viewed as a constantly changing musical menage, with one sound never sticking around for too long.

Iceland’s goth-infused psych band Mammút headlined the evening, revealing a confident musical aptitude beneath the quiet, soft-spoken band members. An initial shudder was felt when their sound breached too much on confessional theatrics, but this was quickly overturned as the songs found room to breathe. They balanced their heavy saturation on a melodic backbone, ultimately delivering a uniquely intense and intimate performance.


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