Manchester’s iconic Night & Day Cafe was the venue for the launch of Wait For Dark With A Heady Heart the debut EP from experimental electronica outfit Gymnast. The duo consists of Cathy Wilcock on vocals and guitar with Chris Lyon providing the beats, bleeps, synths, cello and backing vocals; the pair had previous wrote and recorded together as part of Edinburgh 5-piece Mayhew up to 2011. Gymnast have quickly made progress on the Manchester scene and beyond since first playing live in July last year. They have played a session for Michelle Hussey on BBC Introducing Manchester, had support from BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson and airtime on Amazing Radio.
The intimate Night & Day is a right of passage for all bands working their way up through the Manchester scene; the warm and friendly cafe vibe has been a firm favourite with gig goers and artists alike for years, so on a Wednesday night it was great to see a large crowd had come out to support live music. As you would expect at an EP launch we were treated to a showcase of the tracks which make up Wait For Dark complimented by some additional tracks.
The set rumbled into life with Away The Sun which has an early 90’s trip-hop feel, down-tempo break beats and synths combined with vocals that have a haunting fragility to them. Next track Geneva provides the lyric for that titles the EP and follows in a similar vein to Away The Sun albeit with a more uplifting chorus and greater emphasis on the keys. With a stage set-up comprising of a guy behind a keyboard and laptop and a girl behind a microphone there is no hiding place, the duo managing to hold the attention of the audience with their performance and of course their music.
The next two tracks Gymnast played are not featured on the EP and take a different direction with the introduction of live cello and the removal of the beats. For me this didn’t work live, whilst I’m sure that these track would sound great at home or in your headphones, in a live gig environment they didn’t grab my attention. The beats made a welcome return for Sirens, which was my standout track of the night, a beat your feet can move to and a piano riff your head can nod to, this track would be how I would want contemporary pop music to sound. The set closed with the first track off the EP, Build A Boat, which has another trip-hop style beat, cello strings over the top, which were played live as the intro and the used in a loop pedal during the track – clever stuff, added to that a wispy vocal that draws you inside the track.
Gymnast are creating a sound that is fresh, innovative and different to most on the Manchester scene at the moment. I could quite easily see one of their tracks being used as part of a film score as it has that intense, moody feel that works so well at the crucial point in a story. I would recommend you check them out.
You can get hold of a copy of the EP here
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**All photos courtesy of Lindsay Wilson
Away The Sun
New Song (no name yet!)
Build A Boat