Review: Purity Ring prove to be anything but chaste

Olivia Fletcher 5 November 2015

Since their auspicious beginnings in early 2011 when the track 'Ungirthed' was released online, Canadian electro-duo Purity Ring have had a fairly modest output, issuing their debut album Shrines a year and a half later, and then waiting almost three years before offering another dose of their distinctive sound with Another Eternity back in February. 

Although this latter release didn’t offer up the intriguing novelty that singer Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick wove into their debut release – with its refreshingly impressionistic vocals and heady production – it did offer enough continuity and familiarity to satisfy the fans and ‘keep the crawlers out’, and a pleasing mixture of both (although it’s hard to tell the difference) was delivered at the Junction last Wednesday.

Innovative lighting was at the centre of this performance, with Roddick playing a set of eight tessellated lanterns arranged on tree-like stalks around him which, when hit, triggered the duo’s characteristic ‘pingy’ synths. James meanwhile weaved in and out of a forest of hanging bulbs that pulsated with the dense and percussive music. Towards the end of the set even more lights were brought on stage, the beams of which James then bounced around the room with gloves covered in mirrors. The intensity of this highly coordinated and succinct set was underpinned by the intriguing emotional interplay of delicacy and danger, with leading tracks from Another Eternity such as ‘Push Pull’ and ‘Begin Again’ emerging out of the texture of more-or-less continuous sound. 

If there were moments of weakness in this set they came when the intensely produced sound of her voice resulted in a trade-off in clarity, occasionally causing her lyrics of sweat, skin, and bones – a chilling childlike fascination for bodily functions is a feature on both of the duo’s albums –to get lost in the texture. However, the overall performance though offering little in the way of spontaneity was consistently exhilarating and grounded in a puissance that would have ultimately remained even without the pregnant spectacle of all the lights – this music is anything but chaste: no need for the purity ring anymore.