Live review from Electro ROCKS!
3. Natural philosophy
4. Shek O
5. The lonely star
It can be tricky telling a story through music without lyrics, but An Di Yi conjured exotic lands and faraway cityscapes with an absorbing and dreamy collection of understated electronica. An Di Yi is British experimental musician Andy Hepburn, whose travels around Asia and love of trip-hop and Max Richter inspired his cinematic, multi-genre sound. Joining him live at Electro Rocks was bassist Stu McCutcheon (of The Sleeves and The Sinister Left).
The scene was set gently with opener Usagi, a soft, slowly-building track that allowed Hepburn to show off some neo-classical nouse on the piano. With its alien-abduction synths and Monkey Island xylophone, Ships might as well have been called “The Abduction of Guybrush Threepwood”. Although the seagull and whale sound effects were a bit cheesy, the song proved itself the most memorable of the set through sheer wackiness and originality alone.
In a similar vein of ’90s computer games, Natural Philosophy’s synth trumpets channeled the retro MIDI music of Theme Hospital. McCutcheon’s thoughtful bassline gave depth and structure to Hepburn’s softly swooshing twilight keys – adding to the lavish atmosphere rather than cutting through or distracting from it.
In a meticulously rehearsed performance delivered with pride, simple yet precise piano melodies were delivered live over backing track percussion and effects – which occasionally made it sound like Hepburn was playing along to a preset keyboard backing track during a school music lesson.
A jagged electro motif lasering out into the crowd signaled The Lonely Star, a track that evoked the Homeland theming in its combination of action movie beats, wistful, jazz-influenced piano and unobstrusive bass. A blissfully meditative and immersive set had lulled the audience into a dream-like haze. When the lights came on, it felt like an unwelcome obtrusion.
– El Jay