May’s evening blaze seems an ill fit for a night of dark euphoria, but after we climb The Hope & Ruin‘s rickety wooden steps and breeze in to the windowless upper room anything could be happening outside. Dim-lit sunless spaces feel like home for the two acts on tonight’s bill and the brooding pre-atmosphere would suggest it is, on the contrary, the pitch black AM and raining pitchforks in the south coast street below.
First, new Brighton electronic duo Vaiko seamlessly open their slot on the back of Radiohead‘s spine-tingling ‘Nude’. Their set is overspilling with sparse echo-laden soundscapes and tetchy beats, which singer Danni Wells fronts gloriously in a way reminiscent of Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh. Their cinematic closer, the Bonobo-ish ‘Flight’, is the high point and loosely sounds like a Top 40 smash spliced with Cristobal Tapia de Veer‘s eery Utopia soundtrack.
It certainly tees things up for Hackney synth futurists HÆLOS – a band with a midwinter heart who also paddle in the dark deep end of pop. Tonight is the sold-out last show of the London trio’s tour and it’s magnificent; gripping, stirring and uplifting, but with a hue of disillusion. They open in emphatic style with two of their phenomenal debut album’s best moments; the majestic ‘Pray’ – a thrilling throwback to Massive Attack and 90s trip-hop – and the wondrously vivid ‘Separate Lives’ – a song built on hushed interplay between lead duo Arthur Delaney and Lotti Benardout that recalls The xx.
Their glorious sound is unwavering bliss throughout, but closer ‘Oracle’ feels like it has even weightier importance, and when its half-conscious samples and nighttime beat collide a shiver wriggles through us. A wall of cheers signal giddy adoration at its conclusion and as we step out onto the pavement in silent awe, under a silver pepper of stars, we know we’ve witnessed something incredibly special that’ll soon outgrow intimate venues like this one.