Just as KlangHaus at Summerhall this year explores the sonic, industrial identity of the building’s Small Animal Hospital, Scottish band Pumajaw seeks to reimagine an electronic world of sounds and audio effects in Song Noir – The Director’s Cut. Duo Pinkie Maclure and John Wills have taken tracks from films and shows including Twin Peaks, Kill Bill and Kiss Me Deadly and remixed them with looped art-rock phrases, twisted, gothic vocals and hammering guitar cadences.
After the success of last year’s show, the band returns with music lifted directly from their new album, which is released this month. Wills stands on one side equipped with laptop, guitar and mixing devices to produce clinks and clonks that jar against gorgeous, ethereal vocals from Maclure. At times, this is a seastorm of noise that experiments with rhythm and repetition, jarring major chords with minor notes, to generate a rich, layered and deeply immersive experience.
It’s actually quite sexy, too. As Maclure drifts between microphone and curtain, dressed in a shoulder-buffed black gown, her bellowing, cavernous singing conjures up a cabaret tone that bizarrely compliments the melodies created by Wills. We are invited to lose ourselves in this maze of sound, aided by projections of colour, artwork and lyrics that flash up on the screen in front of us.
There are moments when the gain of the guitar drowns out the sound of Maclure’s vocals, which frustratingly breaks up the flow of the performance. That said, it is often a stunning experiment of form and function, and a fascinating synthesis of musical tastes.