I first encountered PUZZLE this time last year, launching his debut single ‘Godlike’ at Electrowerkz in Angel. I remember it being bitterly cold that night, and the beer in the venue being virtually undrinkable. But the music, and the spectacle, left a warm impression on me. Incidentally, I also took a date along with me that night for company. As we left the gig I recall thinking I’d quite like to see Puzzle again; there was something really intriguing about him. He was different. The same couldn’t be said for the date however, so that ended there and then. Fast forward almost a year to the day and move only a few hundred metres down the road to the Hoxton Underbelly, and I’m here to see PUZZLE once more. And, again, I have a date in tow. And yes, it’s bitterly cold. Some things never change. This time though, I hope I’ll come one step closer to unlocking and comprehending the audio-visual enigma that awaits me.
This gig, by contrast to the last, is a more intimate affair and has less stage production. But the unique visuals that peaked my interest the last time prevail. PUZZLE, in the artist’s own words, ‘is all about escapism’, and presenting something on stage that people don’t get to see in their everyday lives. Aesthetically influenced by video games, fantasy books and Japanese cartoons. The result is tribal outfits, fluorescent makeup and animalistic masks. The concept is the result of the Brazilian-born and London-based artist’s desire to ‘explore the constant flux of human emotions through fantasy’. Add to the visuals a sonic blend of dark electro-pop, dance beats and emotionally intelligent songwriting and you’ve got a rare but exciting offering. Latest single ‘Comedown’ sounds like Frank Ocean and Robyn teamed up to write a song and got Depeche Mode to produce it – a kind of emotive synth-pop noir if you will. Sublime.
Of course a real puzzle is something you solve. It’s something to be unlocked. It tests you. And while I think it’s important one understands an artist, their message, their music, it’s also good to be challenged by it. It shouldn’t be too easy, too predictable. And that’s certainly not something you’d accuse PUZZLE of.
This time I leave feeling that this puzzle is certainly one based upon inquiry and discovery. It’s one I want to keep coming back to; one which invites you to try again. The beer was much better here too. Oh, and the date? We’ll see…
Writer and Photographer: Will Steadman: @steadman_will