Hannah Peel is a northern Irish artist, producer and award winning composer. She is a restless and forward-thinking artist, joining dots between science, nature and the creative arts, through her explorative approach to electronic, classical and traditional music. As well as releasing two solo albums she has contributed her sublime vocals, synths and orchestration to records by Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, Rae Morris, John Foxx, and Paul Weller. In 2017 she released her synth-based, space experimental album ‘Journey To Cassiopeia’, toured with a 30 piece brass band and in April this year performed a triumphant sell out show for the reopening of the Southbank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Hannah also recently played on BBC 6 Music’s Biggest Weekend Stage in Belfast, wrote the song ‘Kiss Me First’ for the new C4 virtual reality thriller of the same name and in June filled in for Guy Garvey for her first ever radio show on BBC 6 Music.
Hannah Peel immediately climbs several rungs up a just-invented metaphorical Ladder of Respect with me by coming onstage with an awkward hello and starting with only a hand-wound, ticker-tape music box and her wonderful, soaring voice. Brilliant.
It doesn’t take long for her genius with electronics to come out though. Although someone seems to have left Mogwai’s blood-curdling bass settings on the desk from last night, which, I’ll be honest, takes a lot away from Peel’s soft soprano.
Her violin is plugged through so many levels of distortion that at first I think it’s not plugged in and she seems to be doing some sort of strange, mute mime. But it’s just very, very clever.
She alternates between live-looped synths and keyboards, violin, yelps, and various boxes of wires I wouldn’t understand. The live drummer is powerful, and adds an important layer to the electronic beats, as well as nice harmonies. The two of them smile a lot too, clearly having a marvellous time, which makes me like them even more.
The music box is wonderful. Putting it down while it’s amp is on results in an echoing crash like The End of Everything, and I love the moment at the end when the tape falls out to mark the close of the song. The music box rendition of Tainted Love is particularly good.
The thumping bass really isn’t helping this, but I will certainly keep watching Peel in the future. She’s clearly absurdly talented and versatile, and really does deserve a more considerate PA and/or mixing desk.