From the back of a busy Ruby Lounge, you can just about see the iconic sight of a tambourine being held aloft on stage. Only when the songs subside, and it’s possible to peer through gaps in the crowd, is there much sight of elfin vocalist Yukimi Nagano. This Swedish band have not called themselves Little Dragon for no reason.
And yet, they emit the noise of a much larger, fire-breathing electronic beast; a collision between nervy electro-pop and walloping dance grooves, topped off with clattering percussion. When lasers fire over the crowd, the visual limitations are forgotten in favour of an invitation to lose yourself in music. It’s part-gig, part-club experience. Although Nagano has collaborated with DJ Shadow and Gorillaz, the 80-minute set primarily airs this year’s acclaimed third album, Ritual Union. The title track is the closest they come to pure pop, Swedish-Japanese-American Nagano’s nimble vocals dancing Björk-like around a minimal but memorable melody. The dreamy Brush the Heat (“I’m giving in to the rhythm of my feet”) is given an eerier, stark electronic treatment reminiscent of Daniel Miller’s synth pioneers the Normal. Elsewhere, songs are extended into percussive, cowbell-beating jams, given expectant pauses and then restarted, and sped up into such dizzying climaxes you fear they will spin out from the building. However, on recordings there is a sense that they haven’t decided whether to aim primarily for the dancefloor or the singles charts, and they seem to pull back from the precipice on stage, too. When Nagano says, “We’re going to take it down”, she ushers in a lull, where even the sub-bass competes with chatter. Thankfully, it doesn’t last; the spare, sensual pop groove of Precious restores the excitement, and up goes the tambourine again. Source.