Having been hand selected by The Cure’s Robert Smith to support Placebo at Southbank’s Meltdown Festival in the summer of 2018, it was no surprise to see Icelandic darkwave trio Kælan Mikla perform to a near capacity crowd at Electrowerkz on Wednesday night.
Presented by Bad Vibrations, the evening began with a performance from newcomer Some Ember (aka Dylan Travis). Clad in a silver shirt and metallic make-up, Travis shared his classic 808, Cold Cave-esque sounds with energy and enthusiasm, before Kælan Mikla took to the stage to deliver a set full of brooding electronic dissonance.
Together, Sólveig Matthildur (synths/keys), Laufey Soffía (vocals) and Margrét Rósa (bass) created a coven-esque atmosphere with their layered drum beats, pulverizing synths, powerful vocal delivery – and a burning stick of incense held by lead vocalist Laufey. A mix of spoken word, angsty screams and extended notes, Laufey’s voice echoed around the venue with poetic prowess. Singing in her native Icelandic tongue, the mood of each of Kælan Mikla’s songs translated clearly – whether listeners were fluent in the language or not.
Despite their darkwave roots, the trio’s live delivery had a gentle pop energy, aided by their animated movements and a colourful light show. Whilst their performance was still haunting and immersive, the chemistry between Matthildur, Soffía and Rósa clearly lightened the mood. After returning for a brief encore – Laufey with incense in hand again – the band left the stage to the sound of rapturous and appreciative applause. A bewitching, indulgent live experience: Kælan Mikla’s set is a beguiling blur of post-punk, gothic noise that ensnares the senses.
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