There’s always been a lack of live original music in Cambridge.

One group changing that is the Warm Laundry label, co-founded by third-year Philosophy student Tiernan Banks.

Warm Laundry is a young collective, but a prolific one. Over two years, they have curated four compilation records, countless gigs in London, Cambridge and elsewhere, released several singles and EPs, and run the main stage at Three Wheel Drive 2017.

They are not easy to define. Their website is pink, their artwork is soft, their name is Warm Laundry. On the other hand, their first Cambridge gig of 2018 was, more or less, about death. February 8th saw the first of two Warm Laundry presents nights this term, in the basement of CB2. The room felt like a branded séance – a painting of two socks was draped against the wall, lit by a pink lamp and a row of tea candles. The artists, Purplehands and Lore, are both solo producers, and the space let you get close to them. Intimacy, coupled with an intense sound, gave the experience real power.

The first act, Purplehands, is the project of local musician Lawrence Fisher. His music comes from a tradition of 80s influenced electro – he cites Sync24, Luke Eargoggle, Com Truise and the Frustrated Funk label.

Purplehands’ aesthetic is unified by sci-fi – on his Soundcloud, concept art and pictures of synthesizers pervade, as do titles like ‘Electric Civilize’ and ‘Pumpin Hot Sweatty Ass Robobeats’.

Digital utopia was the gut of Purplehands’ set. Take its form – five songs over forty minutes, seamlessly merging. He did not let a track die.

I talked to Purplehands about his previous job as a lighting technician. Unlike sound, he feels lighting is rarely noticed – yet its contribution to a mood is vital. He spoke about his fear of miscolouring an important chorus, or how emotional he became dimming the lights for a quiet song.

Purplehands’ sensitivity to light as sculpture translates into his music – his textures were expertly tessellated. The sound was full, but never busy. The opening track achieved euphoria with a single high vox. At one point, a pointed sawtooth altered timbre erratically - you couldn’t predict its next hypocentre. Yet none of these sidesteps threw the audience overboard. You felt like you were playing too.

Purplehands’ delight in music is generous; he doesn’t look to trick or subvert. Four bars before one drop he smiled to let the audience know. Four bars later, it dropped.

While Purplehands’ lode of gear was digital, he used homemade analogue samples and voice recordings. Committing old synthesizers to digital memory is so much like uploading a conscience to a mainframe. Couple this with his refusal to let his songs decay. Death, by merit of absence, is an unspoken locus in Purplehands’ music.

His standout lyric, “you cannot unplug me”, sums this up. 80s synth music never died, it just moved to a new body. If this seems like overanalysis, consider another of Purplehands’ old jobs – an anatomical technician in a dissection room.

After a short break, Lore performed. The moniker of second-year English student Patrick Fitzgerald, Lore is a diverse musician. He has a background as a post-punk bassist, yet some of his biggest influences as a producer are James Blake and Tycho.

Before the gig, he spoke to me about a dream project – a three-dimensional reactive music. You close a door, a sound becomes muffled. You move through a room, a sound flees or approaches. Lore also talked about comedy, an art he reveres for its reliance on unpredictable reaction. His ideas about interaction are good, but they get better when he executes them.

As his set opened with ambient track ‘a trembling’, a couple in the audience started to make out. Lore responded, twisting the sound and thickening it into something more sultry. Six minutes later, the same couple dropped a glass. Lore waited for the smash to ring out, then responded with his first beat. This is an example of positive response – Lore welcoming outside events into his music. He also let his music reject.

One of the heaviest entrances of the set, ‘Basement’, dropped like a plane landing. But as soon as the crowd went up, Lore pulled the volume, slowly allowing it to creep up again. Lore is playing with new ideas - can a beat that big also be timid?

“As a concertgoer, it’s a complex transaction - he was not simply there to jack you off”

Lore’s physical reaction to the bigger moments was reserved, but he gave a fist pump as one song very quietly ended. What’s he listening to? How are his desires different to yours? Through these questions Lore forces the audience to consider their role. As a concertgoer, it’s a complex transaction - he was not simply there to jack you off. Lore knows how to tease, but also how to overwhelm – take the set’s centerpiece, a remix of Soulja Boy’s ‘Kiss Me Thru The Phone’. Here, he let the hook briefly make itself at home, then took a bite out of it, too big to chew.

Lore force-fed this portion to the audience, looping it into fours with obese swagger. This is an old school style of remix, one that could easily have taken its cues from DJ Screw. With this in mind, we can’t ignore Jon Caramanica asking, “is the sound of Screw the sound of death?”

Purplehands intervenes to immortalise his music – Lore lets his songs die. They die predictably or inappropriately, with splendour or deflation. For such a young artist, he demonstrates knowledge of real death.

Electronic music is often seen as unconquerable, an inhuman authority. With its sentience and flaws, Lore’s became organic.

The next Warm Laundry presents event is 7pm, 21st February at CB2. Performing are Pete Um, Cavernzz & Jerskin Fendrix

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