Moon Unit

Belfast-Berlin electro outfit extend a warm welcome to one and all

Electro outfits have a history of being static, from the fixed robotic figures of Kraftwerk to the technology cocooned artists of today. But this separation from the audience is being left behind by some.

Laptop illuminated groups like Autechre or the isolated indifference of Dopplereffekt are being eclipsed by a new desire to engage and perform for and with the spectator. And a recent gig by the Belfast-Berlin crossover outfit of Moon Unit is emblematic of this switch.

Moon Unit are the German and Northern Ireland duo of Paul Mogg and Rosalind Blair. Mogg is one of the artists behind the Supersoul Recordings label, whose back catalogue was released on a double CD in 2008.

The two met whilst Blair was studying at St Martin’s College in London, swapping track ideas and casually collaborating. In 2007 Mogg decided to create a new electro outfit and needed a vocalist. Blair was flown to Berlin and Moon Unit were born.

As the pair take the stage at the Stiff Kitten a different sort of energy takes hold and the mono-movements associated with live electro are replaced by jerky dance moves and the frenetic vocals of Blair.

'Connections', taken from the duo's debut EP, runs with Debbie Harry intensity and the precession of a SH 101. Vintage analogue chords weave as powerful vocals decode to produce an emblazoned opener for the Belfast crowd. Blair holds the limelight as Mogg layers synthesizers across live drum beats to shower a mix of man and machine sound across the room.

The set-up of Blair as frontwoman and Mogg deposited behind his synthesizers invokes memories of the nu-italo energy of Ali Renault and Sebastian Muravchik, aka Heartbreak.

However, Moon Unit have a different feel. Blair’s peroxide hair and ill-fitting t-shirt reflect an art house punk persona that is tamed and accentuated in the sweetness of Mogg’s synthlines. The group’s latest track, 'Hot Chocolate Boy', reflects this image, as Blair throws herself into the sugar coated lyrics and pleasant tones of Mogg’s synthesizer .

Similar to Heartbreak, there is an unmistakable synergy between Blair and Mogg. The anti-hero and anti-heroine merge and split under warm catchy electro soundscapes, all the time pulling the crowd further into the drama, bringing a welcome new humanism to the estranged world of electro.

With a cocktail of primal vocals, snare crashes and slick synthesizers Moon Unit offer something different. The group do not adhere to electro traditions. They do not aspire to the electro chic of Ladytron, nor are they of the computer geek ilk, a la Legowelt.

Instead, Moon Unit reflect a new generation of electro. They are absorbing and receptive, appreciating appreciation and making the sometimes complex land of electro accessible.

Robert Geoghegan