(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #374 and #375: Avec Sans and Plaitum

By on Thursday, 28th January 2016 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Avec Sans (pictured at top) and Plaitum are a pair of female-fronted synthpop duos, that are both scheduled to appear at SXSW in Austin this March. Both bands have crafted a lofty and ethereal sound, drawing comparisons to CHVRCHES and Purity Ring.

Avec Sans embody a soft, yet steady electronic spirit. The London-based duo comprised of Alice Fox and Jack St. James released two singles in 2015, ‘Resonate’, and ‘When You Go’. They have been compared to CHVRCHES on numerous occasions, and fans of CHVRCHES looking for something in a similar vein won’t be disappointed, as both bands create an addictive synth sound. Whilst the bands are similar vocally – namely by being fronted by a talented female singer – Fox’s vocals are more mature and sharper than Lauren Mayberry’s own saccharine pipes. Fox’s throaty, breathless vocals fit well with the whispering notes that almost float through the tracks.

But this doesn’t mean Avec Sans have created a sound that is limp or easy to overlook: there’s something soft and strong about their music at the same time. ‘When You Go’ and ‘Resonate’ both ooze subtle, well-crafted electronic melodies, tethered to simple, catchy choruses and hooks. ‘Hook’ is the operative word here, as both singles are memorable, grabbing you by the ear and pulling you in. ‘When You Go’ is lofty and buoyant, and really shows off Fox’s vocal range. The track is otherworldly and full of cascading sounds, which rise and fall throughout.

‘Resonate’ is equally unearthly, but is softer and gentler. The lyrics are equally gentle, with a striking sentimentality: “The sky falls away, so they come see him / in the light, holds its place / Inside of me and your heart, your heart, your heart / bears my name, to hold me now, to resonate”. It’s the kind of song that grapples with everyday occurrences such as falling in love, but takes them beyond the realm of the ordinary.

Just as unearthly in sound are Plaitum, an electro-pop outfit rooted in Colchester. They’ve just released their eponymous EP, featuring four enticing tracks produced by superstar producer Paul Epworth. Like Avec Sans, Plaitum have created a series of unique, well-crafted tracks. Matt Canham and Abigail Dersiley, who have been friends since they were 11 years old, signed to Epworth’s own Wolf Tone record label towards the end of last year.

Like Avec Sans, Plaitum’s music includes a range of electronic influences but is better compared to Crystal Castles’ blend of eclectic synthpop than Avec Sans’ subdued melodies. Plaitum are also similar to Purity Ring (another female lead synth duo), both in musical style and make-up. And, like Purity Ring, Plaitum ventures into the realm of witch house that Crystal Castles do so well, with bewitching industrial sounds and distorted noises weaving throughout each track.

Dersiley’s throaty and guttural drawl only adds to their atmospheric aesthetic. The track that has everyone talking is ‘LMHY’ (Let Me Hold You), which begins with a gnarly scream. Being the first track on the EP, it sets the precedent for the rest of the record, which continues on in an equally unusual and captivating way. ‘LMHY’ itself is vampish and bold, densely packed with a murky ambiance that calls up all manner of ghouls and eerie shapes that might be lurking in the edges of your consciousness. For fans of Glass Animals, also signed to Wolf Tone, Plaitum will be worth a listen as both bands capture a similarly eerie quality. In particular, Glass Animals’ ‘Holiest’ featuring Tei Shi echoes Plaitum’s spectral mood.

The ‘Plaitum’ EP has a decidedly mature sound to it, and I was surprised when I discovered that Matt and Abigail are both only 20 years old. It’s always seriously impressive when people so young can come together to produce something so vivid and different, considering the way that teens of this generation are often looked down upon. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do next.

Both acts are sure to big on the radar in 2016, melding pop, indie and electronic elements into their music. Both Avec Sans and Plaitum are scheduled to perform at SXSX 2016 in March in Austin.

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