By John Armstrong, Rock At Night Manchester Correspondent and Columnist and Melanie Smith, Photographer
Venue: The Factory, Manchester
The latest album from UK born/US resident Carina Round is an eighteen track retrospective, personally chosen and covering fifteen years of solo output, it runs for over 79 minutes squeezing every possible drop of space out of the CD. This sublime collection is titled ‘Deranged To Devine’ and mixes the drive and power of early PJ Harvey with an uncontrived Bjorkian strangeness and quirk.
She performed her solo set at The Factory in Manchester taking the stage in almost total darkness, illuminated only by two small clip-on LED reading lights attached to the base of the microphone stand, their faint illumination beaming downwards onto the array of effects pedals, behind which a dark shape amid the inky black stage crouched, constantly manipulating tweaking and changing settings as she built up the layers of her haunting opening piece ‘The Secret Of Drowning’.
Standing for the rest of the performance, accompanied only by her battered Danelectro guitar – occasionally swapping it for an acoustic – and the abstract images projected onto a circular screen, making it seem as though Carina Round was playing from inside a giant disco ball or floating in a bubble, like the Good Witch of Oz. The focal length of the projector meant that she had to stand towards the back of the stage, but that took nothing away from the intimacy of the performance.
Carina’s statement that “This one was used in the TV show Fresh Meat, I’ve never seen it but I hear it is much loved” was met with shouts of random meats “pork!” “chicken!” “beef!” from one enthusiastic crowd member, and simultaneously “That’s ‘Backseat’; we know that one – I’ve not seen it either” by another. Invited to sing along to the chorus, we did, “We were born into the wrong time.”
To play an hour and a half long solo set and hold the room’s attention takes a special skill and that is present in abundance. Seek her out, you’ll need to catch her live to get a physical copy of the album otherwise it’ll have to be a digital version. ‘Deranged To Divine’ is a wonderfully dynamically paced compilation, ignoring simple chronology in favour of what sounds best alongside the next song and deserves to be played on repeat.
Carina Round Website: http://carinaround.com/