PIXELSTORM – THE BEE’S MOUTH, HOVE – 10.9.21
How lucky have we been tonight. Not only did we manage to park for free after 8pm near any concert hall of our choice, the duo we were seeing played for two hours!
Tonight we were witnessing a new place for us, “the hive of bad reputation” or as it is better known The bee’s mouth, which is located at 10 Western Road, Hove, BN3 1AE. We were there to witness an exciting new synthpop duo that goes by the moniker of Pixel storm.
The group decided to reunite in the weeks leading up to containment, finally in September 2019 to be precise and they have certainly been extremely creative since, as we will see tonight with no less than twenty original compositions performed for us within two hours.
Pixelstorm includes singer Pete, who is also dedicated to mastering the great Roland 908 Keytar – he lives in Reigate – and Jem on Korg synth, other synths and bass guitar – he lives in Farnham. The duo were in Hove for the launch of their brand new 5 track EP titled ‘The pressure drop’ that came out today – watch it HERE.
This evening was designed to be an intimate and atmospheric affair as the capacity of the event hall on the ground floor is limited to just 40 people. The room is rather lush like a ladies’ boudoir and the seductive red being the chosen coloring. We are seated on the long, comfortable sofa that lines the sides.
The duo greeted us on our arrival and informed the punters that all tracks for the new EP had been written during lockdown. Soon after, they started their set at 8:48 p.m.
The first thing that catches my eye is (unsurprisingly) Pete is reading the lyrics from an iPad in front of him, while young Robert De Niro who looks like Jem is engrossed in his Novation and other boxes of goodies. below. They’re dressed for Waikiki Beach and might well have left their surfboards behind the dark red drape behind them.
The opening number of their ever-growing portfolio was ‘Statue of love’, Which one is
who is very Bobby O beat meets that of Depeche Mode “I can’t have enough” and appropriately concerns lovers during lockdown. We find it on the new EP and it’s a wonderful slab of nostalgic eurodisco synthpop. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that every number played tonight was like hearing a distant and distant new wave synth forgotten, here at home or on a sunny vacation in Europe. The tunes are wonderfully familiar and yet they are all brand new self-written compositions! Are these guys caught in a Dr Who time vortex from 1980 to 1988 or so? May be !
The second number is ‘Silver bear’ and you immediately understand the fact that singer Pete is a fan of David Bowie, as his vocal performance during this set is littered with vocal comparisons. This beauty is rather like ‘Hello Spaceboy’ mixed with Depeche Mode keyboards. Another nice piece.
Track three is titled after the band ‘Pixelstorm’. This sends a warning message about the dangers of social videos and Jem makes great use of his Novation on this one, sounding not too different from the Pet Shop Boys. “Paninaro” with Pete’s Bowie-esque voice at the top.
Tune four is the very first public release of ‘Jealous eyes’ and sees Pete slipping the large Roland 908 Keytar over his shoulder. This one has a nice sultry synth beat with some nod to The Eurythmics ‘Sweet dreams are made of this)’.
This is followed by the wonderfully nostalgic ‘1984‘, (found on the EP) with Jem on bass for the first time tonight. This song name refers to timeless childhood delights such as Woolworths ‘Pick’N’Mix’ and Cadbury Curly Wurly. It’s hard to believe this plug isn’t from the time, but I would say it would be more realistic on Mute Records and released in 1980 or 1981 and not 1984.
The next step is “No superheroes” which isn’t surprising for superheroes and honestly sounds like a missing track from the first Mode board. ‘Speak and spell’. Excellent work!
“I just want more” is track seven and concerns food waste. I absolutely loved the touches of it.
Pixelstorm then takes a two or three minute break that allows punters to either bring in the beers or get rid of them!
They quickly reunite with ‘Rise up’ which seems to reflect the backbeat of The Human League ‘The Black shot from space ‘, which then turns into a crescendo with vocals delivered with enthusiasm much like Andrew Eldritch of the Sisters of Mercy and Mark Hollis of Talk Talk. Jem pulled out the bass again. Speaking of Sisters Of Mercy, the upcoming swirling beat number titled ‘Mindcraft’, – which bears the name of the video game by Markus “Notch” Persson – reminds me with the voice of Pete of the cover of “Sisters” by Hot Chocolate ‘Emma’.
Knight Rider’s KITT car has its own melody tonight to an 80s and 90s dance vibe for a shock that rings somewhere in between Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ early meets New Order and Heaven 17 on the way to Ibiza. They titled this one ‘Night runner’ and dropped the ‘K’ for some reason, but hey, that’s another fabulous song!
Track eleven was “Drone racer” with its underlying helicopter beat on the intro and outro and between morphs into a pumping synth beat.
The main track of their 5 track EP was as follows, namely, ‘Fix me’ and I said to myself “Ooooohhh hello” as the opening synth bars played, which is very Sigue Sigue Sputnik meets the hidden gem of Soft Cell Metro MRX, “Whoo Hoo”.
The keytar makes its appearance again on “Electroshock”, which has a pounding “The world in my eyes” (Depeche Mode) style rhythm accompanied by Pete’s garish style delivery. Sing now….“There is only one way to reach me now”.
“Space armada” is next and is a composition about a robot trapped in space. I particularly liked the heavy style synth on this number, very Clan of Xymox.
The final number before the second of the two or three minute breaks was “Crazy on a train” with his “Dance Dance Dance” Lyrics. I couldn’t help but think of ‘Transmission’ by Joy Division.
Back from the micro-break and Pete puts on a pair of bright flashing glasses and it’s time to ‘White knight’, with its intro which reminds me of the epic of Propaganda ‘Dreaming in a dream’. It’s a hypnotic melody with a remarkable line “Flee from me, the white knight has fallen”.
‘Electric Friday‘ sounds like a long lost 80s hymn to the annals of time probably contained on the ‘E = MC²’ Giorgio Moroder’s album, but is actually new. This easy-to-sing number (“She takes it all the way, Electric Friday ”) is on the PE. Think ‘Hello Spaceboy’ meets “Awesome city”. It’s amazing how prolific Pixelstorm has been !!
We were now on “Solar flares” (track eighteen of the night) which was written about a ball in a nightclub with really big flares. Oh look, A Flock Of Seagulls has arrived and I’m very happy with it. This is the best trail so far. “Solar flares in orange, yellow and pure white”.
“Let’s build something new” is a six-minute composition (found on the EP) which takes him into an almost ambient territory with his spoken dialogues and his keyboard work in the style of the powerful Jean-Michel Jarre.
The final number is “New Synth City”, which is John Foxx-esque and slowly builds and builds… and that’s it!
Oh no, it isn’t, because bettors just won’t let them finish. Pixelstorm kicks in again with a repeated performance of ‘Night runner’ and end at 10:48 p.m., exactly two hours after their start!
Brilliant evening! Can’t wait to start all over again! Index! Index!
Pixelstorm Song List:
‘Statue of love’
“I just want more”
“Crazy on a train”
“Let’s build something new”
“New Synth City”