With a politeness at odds with the bass filling XOYO, Disclosure ask us to step towards the stage. The two brothers take it in turns to switch between an array of laptops and kit, producing a sound that is astounding, especially as it is coming from a duo with a combined age of just 35.
The 21st century has spawned a generation for whom literally the entire history of (modern) musical inspiration is at their fingertips. Over the course of 45 minutes Disclosure quickly and seamlessly move through garage/two-step, (post-)dubstep wobble, Chicago House, soul and hands-in-the-air rave.
Vocals speed up and slow down, twisting an established garage trope to wring more emotion from a sound that’s hallmark was glossy but verged on shallow. Disclosure’s sound retains soulfulness even if it is no longer literally vocalised. It is a great juxtaposition of the up-tempo beats and bubbly melodies and the undeniably sad, they draw a blinder of a set draw to a close descending into some churning Detroit Techno.
The stage is cleared bit by bit. Chad Valley sets up his one keyboard. As introductions go “Hello, I’m Chad Valley, and I’m going to play some music for you” seems pretty straightforward. But right from the first note it seems to be a claim that goes beyond bashfulness to the point of ridiculous understatement.
Hugo Manuel (as his Mum calls him) builds layer upon layer of warm looped fuzz, slowly filling the room to the brim with noise, before harmonising five or six tracks of his vocals over one another. The crowd is silenced, a great dam of sound rises to a squall before a crash of hi-hat releases the energy to spill all over the audience. Louder and noisier than on record this live show has a more visceral feeling that only serves to heighten the emotional stakes.
Playing in front of a backdrop of home videos of children sledging down snowy hillsides and building snowmen, it hits the sweet spot of evocative, warm and fuzzy as well as the pure lively energy of childhood, all fun and mucking about. Alongside this quiet, almost shy, man it only serves to highlight the bittersweet seam that runs through all nostalgia. A bittersweetness that extends to include Chad Valley’s voice, which is a lovely powerful, warm and full sound. Both capable of wrapping you up in emotional swaddling and get your toes tapping. It is equally impressive that all this sound is coming from just one man, one keyboard and two mics,
Chad Valley expertly walks a fine line avoiding being overly earnest, with rhythms that definitely point towards fun rather than the down tempo seriousness of so many young male electronic artists at the moment. The timely deployment of steel drum for instance, works wonderfully. He also sidesteps another hazard of nostalgia based music the cheesiness (and or histrionics) that on occasion has been the downfall of the likes of M83, to name one other purveyor of epic synth reminiscence.
Stepping up or down a gear Chad Valley never lets the energy of the set drop, audience and artist feed off one another as he deftly switches between soaring euphoria or electro-pop foot movers. The crowd greet the end of every song with applause. His parting words are only to say that “he is very happy to see so many people” at XOYO, with a national tour supporting Friendly Fires this bashful young man better get used to being on the receiving end of adulation.
This article is a Saint Uffido original!