Music review: Hidden Door Launch Party, Liquid Room, Edinburgh

Hidden Door at Leith Theatre
Hidden Door at Leith Theatre
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AT the end of a snowbound week where higher-profile gigs were being cancelled across the board, the sense of localism and blitz spirit with which the launch party for this year’s Hidden Door festival went ahead emphasised some of the finest virtues of the event itself. Having “rediscovered” the dilapidated but gorgeous Leith Theatre last year to wide acclaim, their modus operandi of finding a disused, derelict Edinburgh space, drafting an army of volunteers to clean it up and programming a week of arts events is being used on the same space again at the end of May, with the addition of the former State Cinema on nearby Great Junction Street offering a much-expanded programme.

Hidden Door Launch Party, Liquid Room, Edinburgh ****

While the programme for Hidden Door 2018 offers art, film, theatre and dance, as well as a live music bill featuring Edinburgh’s own Young Fathers, it was the latter strand which was emphasised at the launch party.

Despite the impressive feat of going ahead with the night and filling the venue, there was one artist cancellation from the poorly named but reputedly excellent Glasgow band Pronto Mama, meaning three electronic artists moved in succession along a table filled with laptops and gear.

From Edinburgh, there was a warm-up set from first Midi Paul, and then the Reverse Engineer, aka Dave House, whose dense and atmospheric productions bore traces of acid and glitch techno.

Having made the trip from Glasgow courtesy of a generous lift, meanwhile, Polish singer and composer Ela Orleans was a wonderful, transporting headline act. She blends dream-like, reverb-heavy vocals with music which treads the line between ghostly soundtrack and warm dance beats, against a backdrop of kaleidoscopic classic film footage; to hear her in a venue like Leith Theatre – if she ends up playing there – will be a singular experience.