Pat Grossi, aka Active Child, cultivates the mystery and plays the kind of music that could make you travel through a space hole, forget about time while transporting you into another dimension. His majestic music is truly unusual, progressively building a transcendent emotion,… and isn’t the harp the instrument of celestial creatures? Grossi may be one of them, as his church-choir-trained falsetto has curiously a real goose-bump quality in the middle of this grandiosity.
Wearing a white long-sleeve t-shirt and his hair very short, Pat Grossi took the stage with his musicians surrounded by two white statues of Roman Vestals (or were they Greek Goddesses ?) for a sold-out show at the Troubadour on Thursday night. With a bass, two synths, synthetic drums and three laptops, they played a set of ethereal synth-electronic haunted by Grossi’s falsetto and his powerful giant harp that he played with a mix of delicateness and fierce determination.
His original music can be described as aerial choir-like songs or mad-electronic-dance-meet-the-mystic numbers installing a glittery atmosphere only fogged up by the smog machines working full time during the show and a laser bean piercing the fog behind the statues, reinforcing the mélange of modern and antique.
They opened the show with ‘You Are All I See’, and right away we were plunged in the grandiose and the strange contrast of a tall strong man with a ghostly figure singing with an eerie voice about his personal heartbreaks. If the harp may appear at first a rather unusual and feminine instrument for a guy (Joanna Newsom anyone?), Grossi played it with sincerity and intensity, very often getting some Kora-like sounds from it.
‘It’s good to be home,… So we have been on this five-week tour’, said Pat Grossi at one point of the show, ‘and this is our last show’ he added with almost a touch of regret in his voice, but he was home and visibly a lot of friends were in the room. ‘It’s gonna be amazing!’ I heard from a girl next to me just before the show started. All night long, you could tell that people were in awe with his astonishing grace on stage, as he was switching from harp to synth and was playing both instruments with the same classicism, introducing his dance numbers with the same inspired spirituality. Yeah, how was he able to do this? Marrying the profane heavy electronic percussions, with the sacred of his vocals.
Necessarily, they played most of the songs from their debut release ‘You Are All I See’ on Vagrant Records, and ‘Hanging on’ may have been a highlight of the show if you consider the impressive number of iPhones and other devices recording the song at the same time. ‘See Thru Eyes’, ‘Ancient Eye’ and ‘High Priestress’ had these synth swirls evoking space-music sometimes mixed with a fusillade of beats while everything was making big splashes of sound and light.
I couldn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics, as they were quite difficult to hear in this sonic turbulence but any line would have brought about the same effect, as his sound was more moving then any words he could have said.
The metallic almost industrial beats of ‘Shield and Sword’ were falling hard and deep in the stomach, ‘Johnny Belinda’ slowly installed a beautiful and desolated soundscape, where his voice was towering the music.
They came back for an encore offering more of their atmospheric and dramatic big sound with the instrumental ‘Ivy’ and ‘I’m at Your Church At Night’, a song much more upbeat than the ones previously played, truly joyous with an earthy sound, that could be only described like a religious experience coming from nature itself.