Teleman | KOKO | 14 April 2016
Teleman thrive on precision. By definitively solving the man-machine equation, they’ve succeeded at packaging the full range of human emotions in impeccable, song-shaped boxes. Some are unpacked at KOKO tonight – more swing to the drumming, longer guitar solos, additional synth textures – but without a trace of needless excess. In fact, by ensuring the flashiest part of the show is Thomas Sanders’ shirt, the quartet reinforce just how meticulous and important their music is.
Even when filtered through the push and pull of the human interaction that underpins live performance, strident set opener ‘Strange Combinations’ sounds as fresh and pristine as it did when released as a non-album single last year. ‘Skeleton Dance’ is still as nimble as its name suggests before the first of the new songs, ‘Brilliant Sanity’, turns down the jubilation. The introspective title track of their just-out-of-bubble-wrap second album is matched by the despairing opening minute of ‘23 Floors Up’, which brightens suddenly and unexpectedly – not unlike the pretty keyboard melody that transforms the muscular choruses of ‘English Architecture’.
Separated by an angelic ‘Cristina’, the relentless ‘Tangerine’ and darkly menacing ‘Fall In Time’, both propelled by Sanders’ jagged guitar riffs, Jonny Sanders’ stabbing synths, Pete Cattermoul’s throbbing bassline, and Hiro Amamiya’s most rock ‘n roll drumming, are the quartet at their most visceral. And despite its metronomic beat, ‘Drop Out’ gives the musicians the chance to really break out of the box, with the Sanders brothers, especially, pushing each other further.
Sounding even bigger, set highlight ‘Glory Hallelujah’ easily lives up to its title, its triumphant spirit spilling off the stage and into the crowd. Similarly buoyant, ‘Dusseldorf’ effortlessly hits the venue’s highest reaches and as Sanders sings “put on your favourite song”, for much of the audience, he just has.