15th November 2012, Apollo
The video for Gotye’s number one selling single, ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, has been viewed over 300 million times on YouTube. Only a cretin would ignore such concentrated visual popularity: as Gotye’s show unfolds, it’s rapidly apparent that he’s not missed a trick. An enormous bank of screens projects falling plumes of colour as a backdrop to ‘The Only Way’ from Like Drawing Blood, released in 2006. Gotye himself is distracting, his body tightly packed into slate-grey shirt. He thwacks raised synth pads whilst pulsing out vocals, before taking off around the stage to play drums and a tableau of other instruments: an organ flex, omnichord and metallophones.
On his recordings, Gotye’s voice takes on a laborious and distant echo: live, and brought to life with an intense visual accompaniment, his sound is inescapably powerful. Echoing the genre-collage of Gotye’s music, the video changes for each song, styles including stop motion paper animations, anime and fast-forwarded filming. Comic-book graphics in chunked black lines are interspersed with CAT scan flashes as complement to the rock chords of ‘Easy Way Out’, first of the songs played from Gotye’s latest album Making Mirrors. ‘State of the Art’ twists together voice distortion with a reggae beat, the animation of a psychotic computerized device expanding upon the self-reflexive lyrics.
The Apollo audience is even made part of the project: Gotye demands ‘Manchester in three part harmony’ for ‘Save Me’, during which two animated body derivations find each other and make a whole on the screen. By contrast, the monotonous and unfocused visuals for ‘Night Drive’ compound the song’s sentimentality, underlining how influential presentation is in translating Gotye’s work. The show offers an eclectic compilation of sound and effect: as an artist, Gotye is best watched as well as listened to.