SXSW: You’ve never seen anything like Anna Meredith

There’s more than a fair share of lo-fi surf-rock bands, left-field rappers and indie electronic acts at SXSW 2017, but there’s nothing I’ve seen quite like Anna Meredith.

Anna Meredith. (Photo credit: Eric Pulsifer)

The British composer played Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. Live she played keys, laptop, bells and clarinet alongside a band of musicians playing tuba, cello, drums and guitar. Occasionally they all sing in unified accapella harmonies like some sort of hippie indie collective that lives in a bus. It’s a weird and wholly unique sound — a collage of disparate elements that magically come together, like complex geometric patterns that can (seemingly impossibly) be tiled.

The group, dressed in black and gold attire, played a strange brew of maximalist progressive pop that sounds like Battles, Jonny Greenwood and Belle and Sebastian formed a supergroup to score a fever dream. Weirdly enough the resulting songs were something that got the packed Latitude 30 crowd dancing.

Meredith opened with “Nautilis,” with a pounding simple, semi-chromatic climb of “Jaws” tense and triumphant stabs of synth and bumbling tuba blots. Other songs in the set mixed trance electronic loops and the soft swell of strings with thundering, dueling off-tempo drums and math rock guitar.

Sorting through the influences and elements of Meredith’s tunes is part of the fun. Combining elements of metal, techno, 8-bit videogame chiptune, jazz drumming, and pop in songs with time signatures that would require a mathematics degree to count, Anna Meredith is one to watch for those who embrace music that is truly outside the ordinary.

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