It’s quite appropriate that Sonic Cathedral’s latest show takes place in a real place of worship. St Pancras Old Church, a thousand years on this site, is broad and tall and constructed of old stone (quite chilly as a result) so it has great acoustics; originally built for human voices to soar together in sacred expression, the building lends itself to the sort of music featured on the Sonic Cathedral label.
First up is Prayer Meeting (another fortunate name/ venue coincidence). This is the solo project of Jamie Puttnam, formerly guitarist with Fields. He’s a wizard of the pedals, looping his guitar so it becomes orchestral, and creating dreamy tones that take flight into an icy void in the manner of Robin Guthrie.
Next is The Left Outsides, a favourite around these parts but not seen live for at least two and a half years. They’re a psych-folk duo; when Alison sings, with her soft South Shields burr, the songs have the cool folk-rock tones of the 1970s whereas Mark’s songs are characterised by a whimsical psych-pop sound. This is a mixture of traditional tunes, their own folkish songs and the odd freakbeat concoction, all designed for late-night headphones-on introspective listening. It’s good to have them back, even better to hear that the long delayed album is planned for a Dead Meadows-linked label next year.
There’s not a lot of on-stage action from any of our bands tonight but lots seems to be happening within Cheval Sombre’s songs. Christopher Porpora plays guitar and sings from behind a music stand so you can barely see him while Sonic Boom, in full view, adds delicate electronic fuzz and burbles plus glorious keyboard melodies. It’s lovely, drowsy psych-pop with surprising depth, a touch melancholic leaving a Night-Nurse kind of warm buzz. Porpora is dragged back for an unexpected encore, a slowed down and treacle-thick version of the Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, where notes are wrung out and left hanging, like stalactites of melody waiting to be broken off. It caps a masterful psych-pop performance, although the glow it leaves is purely internal.