Park Motive, the musical moniker of home producer Sam Herschmann, has been performing and releasing music for approximately seven years or so now. Their first release, ‘No Slip’, was released on the Slow Dance ’16 EP alongside tracks by Glows and Asha Lorenz, the vocalist of Sorry, who are currently touring the States. In between bands at Brixton’s Windmill, Sam tells me that Park Motive’s first ever gig – also Sorry’s first gig – was at the embryonic form of what became Slow Dance: a boat party in Royal Victoria. Supposedly it was a legendary night that is still spoken of by the happy few who attended.
In the time that has elapsed since then, Park Motive has been gestating and confidently realising itself, while many of their peers have prematurely entered the ring, not yet fully formed. Herschmann has spent this time succinctly incorporating influences ranging from house and techno to folk and Brazilian pop, and has smithed his own introverted interpretation of dance music. Meanwhile, the live iteration of the act has consisted of the same six members for the best part of four years. The culmination of this is the exemplary sophomore single ‘Undark’, released at the end of April alongside a music video (see below) directed by Cuan Roche.
The current series of Slow Dance’s monthly residency at the Windmill is called ‘Slow Dance <3 [i.e. ‘loves’]’, and the idea is to showcase smaller acts that the Slow Dance team is big on, and who may not get much exposure otherwise. For the ninth night of this series, they elected to host a special electronic and dance edition. And like most electronic events on a Wednesday evening, it was not that busy. However, it was great – the dual threads running through the evening were experimentation and fun.
Opener Bubble People is a lone performer with a table of modular synths and equipment. The sound was eclectic, nodding to current trends in hyperpop without losing its edge. Towards the end of the setlist, it leapt into the sphere of old school jungle, replete with lo-fi synths and intricate drum breaks. Following this was Pink Eye Club, which sounded like someone who had never been to a weekday student club night before had been told about one between 2003 and 2008 and was then instructed to recreate it. The shoeless man on stage was accompanied by a laptop playing instrumentals that were somewhere at the nexus between house, trance, and football anthems in the vein of Ant & Dec’s ‘We’re on the Ball’ and ‘Three Lions’. While the irreverent lyrics occasionally felt unconsidered, they didn’t detract too much from the music. I’d like to think that in an alternative universe, Mike Skinner moved to Wigan, and The Streets sounded something a little like this.
Headlining was a relatively new formation of the Park Motive live band. In response to the struggle of consistently finding the time for six full-time professionals to perform, a diet line-up of Herschmann and drummer, Ali Horler, has been assembled parallel. Just as with soft drinks, though, the slimmed down product is not objectively worse, but certainly different. Herschmann balances the organic with the electronic; mechanical rhythms with unabashed feeling. The two-man version of Park Motive leaned harder into the glitchy and weird side of the music, but perhaps at the cost of the hypnotic synchronism of the full line-up. Despite relying more on electronics, though, the set felt primal and stripped back to its essential components. At any rate, after years of working in one way, Park Motive is exploring new avenues into their sound. Will this feed back into the sound of their new music? Only time will tell. The forthcoming ‘Incident’, which will feature on Park Motive’s debut EP, felt particularly well-executed and lent itself to the marriage of electronic textures with airy live drums.
Park Motive image by Photographer Genoveva Arteaga
Cian Kinsella is a Classics teacher and part-time pub quizmaster living in London who is primarily interested in music but is also interested in theatre, literature, and visual arts. He is particularly intrigued by the relationship between art, criticism, and the capital forces always at play. Furthermore, he believes that subjectivity – which is ultimately at the heart of all artistic and cultural criticism – should not be concealed, but probed and perhaps even celebrated. Who decides what we like? How do they construct widely held beliefs about what is good? These are two of the questions Cian looks to address.