Maria Minerva at the Shacklewell Arms
Estonian h-pop star Maria Minerva came on joking about a punter quizzing her over being at the musical ‘forefront’, and then quickly got in to the knob twiddling and echo-laden warbling that is her thing, a self-contained, slightly cabaret performer not afraid to disdain her art by engaging the audience between songs. My Minerva purchase history of Alone in Tallinn, some Not Not Fun stuff and a few from the new album ill prepared for this, as I recognised little although with her frequent output much of it must have been new. When she gets it right, she renders decades of male-led DJ posturing obsolete. Other times, you think, easy on the echo, draw out the tune a bit more, these glitches and filters aren’t working. But the late 80s pop-percussive, quasi-balearic beats - without that era’s trappings of sincere experience and fed through the naughties synth blender - work well as the backbone of many of her songs.
When she was breaking through, with all that Wire debate going on, being at the forefront may have concerned her. Having honed her act as a producer-auteur and got pretty good at not just playing at being pop but actually being pop (whatever that means now), she certainly deserves to leave poky backroom hipster stages and the forums of the cognoscenti behind.
Supporting Minerva were Patchfinder, a producer giving off mixed signals on image with an Inspirals bowl, perfect tache, army waistcoast and sportgear, who churned out orientalist flavours over the most moderne of post-everything beats and synth riffs, first with a singer then on his own. Quite promising. Like the tags on his soundcloud too. Paco Sala, similarly formatted on stage as male knob twiddler with female chanteuse, harked back more definitively to ice-cold synthpop posturing but needed a bit more work to push that digital alienation.