LIVE: TVAM @ Soup Kitchen
WORDS BY NATHAN BAILEY
Wigan’s prodigal son TVAM, or Joe Oxley to his friends, sold out Soup Kitchen, gazed at his shoes, and with one swift movement sent the place skywards. Touring off the back of his really rather fantastic debut album ‘Psychic Data’ the bedroom produced maestro came down to everyone’s favourite Northern Quarter basement.
So much BBC Radio 6 play can garner one a rather sophisticated audience and TVAM is no exception, with large sections appearing clad in great winter coats, armed with great music taste and in some cases you would wager a few tales from the evergreen land of ‘Back in The Day’. In fitting fashion, before Soup Kitchen was treated to a set by a peerless TradTronica potion master Dennis Jones. Jones has been based in Manchester for some time now, but for those not in the know, his sound is a rather unique concoction of analogue atmospheric loops and noise boxes, with acoustic guitar and vocals. The outcome of this is really one of those ‘that shouldn’t work but it does’ innovations and Dennis’ ambient free-noise threnodies are a wonderful experience. This night was no exception and he is very well received by the growing numbers in Soup Kitchen.
The place is completely shoulder to shoulder by the time the TVAM set gets underway. Centre stage is a grand old cathode-ray tube telly atop a trolley stand like your teacher used to wheel out to hysterical anticipation back in those school days. No dodgy documentary film for this night though as TVAM’s box telly is an image within an image, a jewel in the visual crown. For your viewing pleasure, a postmodern high-speed montage of broken images. Old Granada television news footage, B movies, landscape shots. Even RoboCop makes a fleeting cameo. This is all interspersed with a helpful display of lyrical content, kind of like a karaoke machine designed by the MK Ultra Project. A rather captivating display, allowing Oxley to focus on the tunes with just a bit of metronomic swaying to the music.
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TVAM played all the full songs from Psychic Data’ on the night, and it’s a wonderful album. Tracks like the anti placid ‘Narcissus’ are absolute giants reminiscent of The Horror’s best work to date ‘Skying’ (yes that is the best Horrors album please @ me). The album was mixed in part by David Honer of Eccentronic Research Council and the Moonlandingz fame and glory. You can certainly see a bit of the research council in tracks like ‘Porsche Majeure’. Where I think Oxley is carving out his own thing is in times like these are not your memories that whilst cacophonous at first, slides through the euphoric mist and lands somewhere of the coast of California.
Towards the end of the set two songs at a different pace. ‘Gas and Air’ is probably the closest thing to an orthodox rock song and gets soup kitchen moving. The set really reaches its pinnacle with the ridiculously excellent ‘Total Immersion’. This tune does what it says on the tin, and could slip onto the far side of Autobahn or Trans-Europe Express without breaking stride. TVAM whipped up a cracking evening in Soup Kitchen, and if you haven’t already listened to the album then you should do so immediately. ‘Psychic Data’ is one of the years best debuts of our dear and aging 2018.