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Earlier this year Delphic brought out their second album, ‘Collections’. After the storming success of their first album, which pretty much took everyone by surprise, for many the second was a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t really fall into that category, and really enjoyed the direction that Delphic had taken their music in. I’d actually seen them earlier this year, but when the opportunity arose to see them and review as part of the MIF festival in Manchester, I couldn’t turn it down.

Delphic are known mainly for their synths, marrying indie and electronic dance genres in the catchiest of ways. Yet for this special three night run, Delphic enlisted the help of their friend David Coyle to transform their sound using inspiration from all corners of the globe. The result is ‘Our Worldly Collections’. And walking into the marquis situated in the Festival Square outside Albert Hall, you couldn’t help but be amazed at the effort that had gone in to this project. The stage was dominated by instruments ranging from classical violins, double basses, the intriguing gamelan, and many others that I couldn’t even hazard a guess at the name of.

The gig started pretty promptly at 8:30PM, as two ladies took to the stage and proceeded to play hypnotizing, oriental style music. A stream of people took to the stage, including a female backing singer, as they continued to play, and finally Delphic took to the stage and began to play ‘Tears Before Bedtime’. The sound was honestly mesmerizing and offered a stark departure from their usual style. Yet you could tell that they wholeheartedly embraced this change. Richard Boardman, usually found behind a synth or keyboard, had opted instead for something which seemed to be a cross between a piano and an accordion. The violins at the start of ‘Baiya’ were beautiful, the drums during ‘Atlas’ were powerful and loud enough to shake the room and every instrument seemed to be incorporating in a new and interesting way as the gig progressed. It was songs like this that really worked well. ‘Freedom Found’, too, was our first glimpse at the gamelan. Matt Cocksedge ditched his guitar for this number and played along on the gamelan, a really complicated looking instrument consisting of steel domes that were hit a bit like a xylophone.

‘Memeo’, an uptempo dance number on the album, was morphed into a sombre ballad, lightened by the use of the gamelan, easily the most interesting looking instrument on the stage, which replaced the bleeps and bloops of the song with steel bells. Normally, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album, but here I think it was changed just a little bit too much, and it just wasn’t quite as danceable as the track normally is. The final song, ‘Changes’ surged from slow and passionate to fast-paced and uptempo and in this song every instrument incorporated seemed to really shine. It was difficult to keep your attention on one thing at a time as, for me at least, every instrument and musician on the stage was either something I’d never seen before or something that was being used that I’d never seen before. I found my attention drawn away from the band constantly and drawn to all the wonders that the stage had to offer. Overall, I think it worked really well despite a couple of hiccups, and it was refreshing seeing a band embrace change as much as Delphic have done.

There were really only two issues with the gig to be honest. The first is that it was incredibly short. They played just 10 songs, lasting around about an hour altogether. Secondly, they didn’t play any of their older, and arguably more popular material, so anyone going expecting to hear ‘Doubt’ or ‘Halcyon’, would be left feeling disappointed. I do understand that the point of the show was to play ‘Collections’ in it’s entirety using all of these unusual instruments, and it would have been difficult to have arranged any more songs than that, but I could tell that it left a couple of people disappointed, and the demand for an encore was enormous.

A lot of the complaints levelled towards Delphic’s second album is that it wasn’t quite different enough to ‘Acolyte’, despite the three year gap between the albums. I’d encourage anyone who felt like that to go and see this show. It was such a different and unusual experience that I’d honestly urge anyone, even those who hadn’t really heard much of Delphic, to go and see it. It was a really special, one off kind of night and I honestly tip my hat to Delphic for being willing to have their music pretty much ripped to pieces and put back together, and the end result was something truly unforgettable.

Review by James Lowther

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