Dan le Sac: The Duchess, York, 28/10/12
Dan le Sac is a producer best known for his collaborations with spoken word artist Scroobius Pip. The pair are signed to Bestival organiser Rob da Bank’s record label Sunday Best and enjoyed a minor viral (and subsequent chart) hit with the meme-heavy hip-hop sermon ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ in 2007. This year Dan has gone solo, releasing an album Space Between The Words on the same label and embarking on a UK tour in support of it. The album consists of perfectly amicable if ultimately bland laptop pastiches of an array of contemporary dance music genres. The music is nothing innovative or groundbreaking, but the songs are well constructed and fun, similar to his work with Scroobius Pip, only with vocalists replacing the arch poet.
The ebullient and undemanding nature of Dan le Sac’s production has always lent itself more to live performance than critical acclaim, his shows with Scroobius Pip always being festival highlights. Therefore, I was keen to hear the album live before dismissing it entirely. Unfortunately for Dan, the rest of York were not so inclined, as The Duchess was very empty on Sunday night. The space is more suited to rock bands than laptop musicians anyway, so a sparse crowd only made the proposition tougher. Regardless of this Dan bound on stage full of enthusiasm, accompanied by the enchanting Sarah Williams White. The pair were both wearing bear hats, a nice touch, and they proceeded to launch into some upbeat synth-pop. Williams White’s vocals gave the songs a catchy hook, with Dan looping them to great effect, creating a dreamy atmosphere whilst never losing sight of the beat. Other songs were reminiscent of The XX, dissonant guitar sounds meshing with MPC produced beats. The constant jumping around between genres meant the set lacked a sense of cohesion but produced a few notable highlights. The introduction of the effervescent MC Joshua Idehen for the rowdy dancehall-esque banger ‘Tuning’ was particularly enjoyable.
In between the tracks, Dan made a valiant attempt to get the scant crowd involved, playing the part of the raconteur and displaying his self-awareness. You could sense his nerves however and the supposed ‘banter’ only made an already awkward situation more so. He was obviously desperate to please but perhaps he should have let his music do the talking. However, when faced with such a sedated audience, you cannot really blame him for trying to inject some humour into the situation. The music Dan le Sac makes can be the perfect soundtrack to a fun night out. Unfortunately for him a Sunday night in a desolate Duchess is not.