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London WC2 Drill Hall

As they're only too aware, it's time to move on.

London WC2 Drill Hall

Cruel though it is to compare an Appliance show to a black-and-white film of an endless motorway journey in central Europe, it's an allusion which carries some weight this evening. Not least because projected on to a massive sheet behind the West Country dronesmiths is said road movie, but also because the threesome seem to be finding it difficult to shift up a gear creatively after the middle-lane motorik of last summer's 'Manual' album.

If that record took Appliance's linear approach to progressive experimental rock as far as reasonably possible, then tonight's sparsely attended affair bears witness to the group's back-to-basics regeneration campaign. And what that means is Appliance do electronica. Trouble is, they do it so tentatively that they give the impression they're simply airing half-finished ideas or works in progress. Sure, it's pleasant enough, but there's clearly a lot more to be done.

Still, there's always the rock option, although singer and guitarist James Brooks' noncommittal delivery and seemingly greying enthusiasm for his music turn even the polite Velvets chug of 'Throwing A Curveball' and 'Pacifica' into patience-trying chores. And not just for the band.

Neither experimental sound scientists nor cautious rock replicants, the middle-ground Appliance have staked out as their own remains a decreasingly thrilling place. As they're only too aware, it's time to move on.

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