As My Bloody Valentine fever went into (interstellar) overdrive last week on the back of the surprise release of their first album for two decades, enraptured converts could have done worse than check out former Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie's low-key shows to see where MBV copped some of their FX pedal moves from.
Previous visits by Guthrie have seen him playing atmospheric soundtracks to his own equally impressionistic films. With Australian bassist Steve Wheeler and Finnish drummer Antii Makinen co-opted into the fold, his new trio vehicle puts brevity to the fore in a series of instrumental sketches that drift between slowcore fuzziness and post-rock jauntiness. Each miniature is possessed too with a human warmth which at times borders on the sentimental.
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Guthrie is a towering figure, whose bearded visage these days makes him resemble a hybrid of Vangelis, Jerry Garcia and John Martyn, a trio that reflects too on the different shades drawn from his exquisitely minimalist palette. There are times the simple bass lines and elaborate drum patterns recall long lost 4AD Records fellow travellers, Dif Juz, who Guthrie produced. Here, however, the washes of sound are looser, and not without levity as Guthrie messes up the opening of one number.
"Where's your chat?" some wag shouts, but Guthrie only grins behind his beard. The only vocals of the night come from support act and former Ride vocalist Mark Gardener, who joined Guthrie for an encore of a co-written song that's as upbeat and triumphal as dream-pop can be. Guthrie ends the night with a solo piece that would make Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour blush, in this quietest of prodigal returns.