The event, jointly organised by the Czech Centre, the Liszt Institute and the Polish Cultural Institute, showcased rising Central and Eastern European talents Zabelov Group, Дeva and Late Arrivals.
Sitting facing each other, either side of moon-shaped projections behind them, Czech-Belarusian duo Zabelov Group are most at home building experimental soundscapes. On the one side, there’s accordion player and vocalist, Roman Zabelov, on the other, Jan Šikl on drumkit and synth. The folk inflections of the electrified accordion and the haunting cries from Šikl, distorted by synthesisers, are offset by the soft and persistent snares, more reminiscent of a jazz lounge. Towards the end of the set, unedited accordion cuts through the noise, a refreshing burst of sound that compliments the layers of swirling distortions behind it. That being said, the cymbal clashing draws out the finale a little too long.
Winner of the Music Moves Europe Award, singer and multi-instrumentalist Дeva (Deva) is the biggest act on the billing tonight for her London debut. Her music sits at the intersection between the global and the local, electronic dance music rooted in Hungarian folk. Instantly, she draws the audience into her ethereal sonic world, as she builds improvisatory vocal loops into rich harmonies, while her guitarist and flautist embellish on her choral-style vocals. Дeva smiles and quietly thanks the audience and turns back to her loop pad, swaying in time as her freeform melodies take shape into songs. There are some slight technical issues, the screen behind her is black, then it flashes to show someone’s computer desktop background and their mouse frantically clicking ‘mirror display’ in a settings window. The speakers also cut out for a millisecond at a few other points throughout the set. Дeva pays it no mind, instead she closes her eyes, and raises her arms above her head, twirling her wrists and seamlessly blending into the next song. Once the visuals start working, everyone supportively cheers, and she looks up from her synth pad, breaking into a wide smile and laughing. From here, she comes into her own, the irresistibly catchy dance number Szélben Szőtt from her debut album Csillag, is a thrilling live experience, whirling together quivering flute melodies, pulsating deep bass and her signature textured vocal harmonies. Witchcraft further amplifies the electric energy with trance-like mantras. She closes with Bölcső, a swaying lullaby fading into birdsong, as she leads us from the enchanted forest, blinking into daylight.
Closing the event, new Polish duo Late Arrivals, perform their unique fusion style music of cinematic piano meets warehouse rave.