Electro-pop trio Antler only debuted their music last Autumn, but already they have made an indelible mark on both the Trondheim & Norwegian music scene.
Gearing up for the release of single #3 and the April launch of their debut album, they were granted the ultimate Trondheim Calling festival wish when they bagged a place on the line up for the Riot Factory/No Forevers sponsored night, at uber cool venue, Moskus. And, if that weren’t exciting enough, they also managed to snaffle the pre-Dagny warm-up slot at venue du jour, Rockheim, on the Friday night.
Antler comprises Natali Garner on vocals, Johan Lindvall on synths and Axel Skalstad on drums/percussion, three musicians with a background in jazz but with a love of all things electronic, alternative and most importantly, eclectic. Their sound goes beyond cold electronic mainly as a result of Skalstad’s energetic and much admired percussive techniques, that both animate and give texture to, their music, (Skalstads drumming was a much discussed topic among his percussive peers during the festival!).
Garner’s vocal falls somewhere between a Nordic Kate Bush and a left field jazzy Bjork and has a gentle, light as air dreaminess, something she shares with fellow Norwegian and upcoming songstress, ARY. It is impressive, and it certainly impressed the two German industry types standing behind me during the bands Rockheim set.
Antler kicked off proceedings with an uptempo, grooved up tune that instantly warmed up an already buzzy crowd, and making most of the momentum, followed on with their second single, ‘The Dip’, a track which Garner sings with sparkling allure – a paradoxical vocal quirk only Norwegians seem capable of pulling off. Her performance was hypnotic but not as spellbinding as the one she gave for her rendition of ‘Born’ : Natali Garner exudes a subtle come hither quality of which she seems completely oblivious, which only serves to make it all the more appealing.
‘Born’ features on the upcoming album, and is certainly one of Antler’s strongest compositions. It benefits greatly from Johan Lindvall’s spacious synth sequences and Axel Skalstad’s impressively tenuous percussion. The solid foundation and masterly techniques which come from having studied at jazz-school, shine through Antler’s music and set this band apart from most of their electro-indie peers.
Electronically, the most interesting track of the night came in the form of ‘Nude’, which allowed Lindvall to showcase his synth-tastic wares. Starting with arid buzzing electronica, the song dipped into the most lush musical oasis during which Garner and Skalstad performed with understated perfection, before the track returned to a rawer, more edgy vibe until tailing out with sensual deliciousness.
Antler wrapped up their enigmatic set with debut single, ‘Animal’, and self-titled ‘Antler’, the opening track from their forthcoming album. The latter is the perfect promotional vehicle for this band – it exemplifies everything that is unique and special about them and their sound. The speed with which Lindvall’s fingers, nimbly and dexterously, played a bolognaise of synth sequences, was genuinely impressive. Underpinning his instrumental mastery was Skalstads slick percussion, which once again he kept understated. Garner’s intense and inviting vocal added further sheen to what was an already polished delivery.
For the new kids on the NO FOREVERS block, Antler are impressive in their ability to offer up a very assured, composed and smooth delivery. As I stood their watching them, I couldn’t help wonder if this is how good this trio are, in the early days of their career, how good will they be in one, three, five years time. Theirs is going to be an interesting trajectory, one I look forward to observing.
Faultless, beguiling, exciting … Antler gave one hell of a performance, and for an act so new to the scene, that was no mean feat.