Live review from Sub Terra #6:
2. Fall in Love
5. Fireworks (Katy Perry cover)
Anyone in the crowd who’d seen Peri M perform would not have expected the goth rock band’s lead singer Aeolus Wong to be fronting an EDM duo. Cassette’s set did have elements of moodiness and dark theatrics, but it was a far cry from the organ keys and doomy guitar of the vocalist’s other group – and a message to other musicians that it can be worth trying something new, once in a while.
The set opened with 無限旅程, a wistful, 80-style ballad with crystalline synth programming. Aeolus sang, played the synth and controlled the backing track from her laptop, while bandmate Johnny Choi manned the bass.
Fall In Love began with staccato, chiming synth stabs (very nearly slipping into Jingle Bells territory) that pushed into fuzz-laden bass, suggesting a Flock of Seagulls influence. The synths became more urgent, like the Psycho shower scene, and Aeolus’s powerful voice took on a slight Amy Lee edge, echoing her goth roots. The pre-programming made the song seem a bit GarageBand, rather than gig, and it would have been interested to hear some of the electronic effects and percussion replicated live.
Nevertheless, the duo exuded effortless cool as the singer beckoned the crowd to move closer and Johnny swayed in his shiny wayfarers.
Next track 開拓 had a catchy synth intro and a strong EDM bass heartbeat that took on a more industrial tilt as the pulsing became more intense. A huge, over-the-top 80s metal solo burst out of the sound system, but it seemed odd without seeing a guitarist playing it live. Then, a softer, more ethereal section gave Aeolus space to show off her glassy vocals before the beat kicked in again. As she tapped out a melody on the electronic pad in front of her, it all sounded rather Dance Dance Revolution.
Tapped drums and synth couplets signalled the start of 某日. A low, growling, subaquatic bass vaguely recalled the downbeat electronica of iamamiwhoami, but a clean piano track took the edge of the song. Aeolus’s voice became babysoft, while Johnny’s bass rhythms fluttered over nursery chimes. It was a chance to breathe and enjoy the cinematic depths of the music, which had Air’s chilled-out quality. The band was trying something new and it paid off.
Cassette then opted for a cover of Katy Perry’s Fireworks, layering soulful warbles over gradually building bass and piston percussion. However, it felt like something was missing, and it wasn’t clear if the band had intentionally gone for a minimal effect, or if something on the sound desk had become unplugged. Aeolus’s soaring voice didn’t match the stripped-back music, which made it seem like a karaoke performance – especially on the high notes where her voice sounded a little strained.
To close, the band went with a cool thumping rhythm with a snatch of a synth motif that rose and fell behind rubbery bass. Aeolus’s strong vocal melodies on 染色體 made for a nice, noughties-inspired pop song, and the background synths evoked the rock electronica of Shakira’s She Wolf. Overall, Cassette played it very clean and safe with a largely pre-recorded set that allowed each member to show off their individual talents. But a little less automation and more of the risk associated with playing live would have made their show a lot more dynamic.
– El Jay