Vök @ The Louisiana, Bristol, 19/05/2017

VökDreamy, ambient music has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. Elements of synth and bass transpire over floaty melodies, making the expansive genre both relaxing and uplifting depending on the level of volume you play it at. Branches and evolutions of the genre are now dubbed power ambient, dream pop or electronica, but it’s clear there’s been another resurgence, harking back to pioneer Brian Eno.

One band that knows dream pop music all too well is Vök. The Icelandic group have been experimenting with sounds and textures since 2013, bagging themselves an Icelandic Músíktilraunir award back when the group were just a duo. With the addition of new band members, the texture of their sound thickens still, layering ever more soundscapes.

You can tell Vök have followed in the footsteps of Portishead, replicating the eerie haze that’s come to be renowned from the Bristol band. Sharing the same twists of melody and echoic vocals demands a calm from The Louisiana crowd, with the shape and intimacy of the venue making the perfect backdrop. The introduction of a saxophone emanates the influence of Air and the dream pop of the early '90s.

Striking the right balance between dreamy soundscapes and synths isn’t a simple task, but Vök find the fit with a steady flow of tempo changes to keep the crowd on their toes. The eeriness only amplifies with lead singer Margrét Rán’s microphone delay, as well as cymbal scraping and shakers. Their sound is certainly much more turbulent than the recordings in a live setting, where the synths and drum pad beats get their full volume and vigour.

The bass and synth seem to get heavier too as they float through their performance, building up towards their climactic finale, “Before”. Surprisingly, this finale is a relatively soft track, with beautiful, soothing vocals and less delay on the microphone to showcase Margrét Rán’s true vocal capability. It’s certainly a crowd pleaser as it brings the show to a gentle close.

The end of their performance seems like an analogy for their whole style: flowing, ebbing, and subverting crowd expectation with dynamic melodies and eerie tones. Being the last show on their European tour, here’s hoping we see more beautiful ambience from Vök soon.

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