Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)
The first thing you need to know about going to see Dean Blunt live is that you are not going to see much of old Blunters himself. Shrouded in a heavy swirl of dry ice, the London producer’s presence is only intuited though his downbeat vocals and a baseball cap emerging from the cloud. It is only through the magic of our photographer’s x-ray camera that I find out, a day later, that there was someone standing behind Dean Blunt.
This air of mystery and intensity is at odds with the mood of the opening band, Danish r’n’b act Liss, consisting of Søren Holm, Villads Tyrrestrup, Vilhelm Strange and Tobias Laust. Their sound draws on everything from the Police to R. Kelly, 90s UK garage, 80s funk, though judging by their appearance they are far too young to have experienced any of those artists at first hand. Boasting an impressive rhythm section and good vocalist, the band look to be the Scandinavian answer to the colourful nostalgia of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.
If you came to Copenhagen’s Jazzhouse in the hope of spending some time in the often lush eccentricities of Dean Blunt’s critically-acclaimed Black Metal, then you were woefully ill-prepared for this gig. Blunt and his ghostly gang begin with the first couple of tracks from the album, “Lush” and “50 cent”, beset by technical problems (something to do with the microphone cable by the sound of it), which added a tense quality to his chanted vocals. Most of the sounds are produced by a sampler, but these sound oddly compressed. The effect is less cinematic than the album, but also more surreal.
The glint of metal from a saxophone is briefly visible on stage before the lights all go off and the group launches into “Grade”, which mutates into a ten-minute soundscape of explosions and tortured sax squeals. It is roughly at this point that I remember having seen two odd shapes at the front of the stage while the crew was setting up. They are revealed to be strobe lights, directed directly into the audience’s eyes, unleashed on us for the last 20 or so minutes of the set. To be perfectly honest I spent most of that time trying to decipher the alien messages hidden in the strobe sequences, and therefore found it hard to concentrate on what songs were being played. I do recall a girl standing behind me singing the bass-line to “Punk” with both hands covering her eyes.
Though the above description sounds rather too much like a form of psychological torture, it’s undeniable that Dean Blunt takes the live experience seriously. His presence/absence on stage, the confrontational lighting, can be seen as dedication to providing his audience with a dramatic experience, though not an easy one to explain.