“Welcome to the first Sunday night of 2013,” announces Julian Corrie with as much spirit-rousing bonhomie as he can muster. “The world was supposed to end last year, so this is just bonus time.”
Although the series of New Year’s Revolution gigs at Glasgow’s famed King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut serve as a filler during the dead weeks post-New Year as much as a showcase for local talent, the feeling by the end of Corrie’s set is that he’s neither a placeholder artist until someone more famous comes along nor a musician who will fail to make good use of his time in the coming year.
Born in Nottingham but now based in Glasgow, where he works for BBC Scotland’s sound department, Corrie released his debut album Light of the North last year on the city’s widely-respected Chemikal Underground. An imprint most famous for its diverse array of guitar-based artists, Corrie’s signing as Miaoux Miaoux went against the grain somewhat. Appearing in his solo incarnation here (he sometimes deploys a full band line-up), this is an utterly contemporary and often thrilling set by a modern techno-pop auteur.
Standing braced between two keyboards and with a guitar dangling from his skinny shoulders, the 26-year-old often gives the impression that he doesn’t quite have enough hands to keep up with the demands of his music, at one point ‘fessing up that "Autopilot" was actually played with one of his keyboards accidentally unplugged.
It creates as visual a spectacle as can be expected in such austere circumstances, with Corrie obviously building up a sweat while performing. Where it works – for example on "Better For Now" the combination of strutting Detroit drum machine rhythm, clanging New Order guitars and angelic vocal arcing above – the effect brings a shiver to the spine.
Each song is blessed with a heavy, club-ready bassline, but Corrie brings an acute pop sensibility. On soaring "Knitted" the chorus “it’s too late for you / it’s too late for me” could have been written by Everything Everything or celebrated sons of this city Aztec Camera, while an unnamed new song’s “hold it down / make it better” mantra is directly from the Hot Chip playbook. A medley of Hey Sound!’s distinctly early-90s acid house groove and stabbing house piano and then the pulsating electronic lullaby of "Stop the Clocks" is strangely reminiscent of Bright Eyes’ "Road to Joy" in form, accentuate this pleasing aptitude for sonic diversity.