It’s been a busy year for Glasgow-based producer Peter Ferguson, aka Wuh Oh, and a sell-out gig at The Poetry Club is perhaps the perfect way to crystallise the success of clocking up stacks of hits for recent online releases and a summer of performance slots alongside the likes of Nightwave, Petite Noir, The Vegan Leather and DJ Shadow.
What’s refreshing about Wuh Oh’s music is its seamless eclecticism: a pick’n’mix bag of catchy samples, chiptune loops, hip hop beats, funky riffs, glitchy synths and idiosyncratic time signatures coalesce with a glaze of polished production that gives each track the sheen of self-complete satisfaction.
The venue is packed out and it doesn’t take long for the crowd to get dancing; while the technical sophistication of the songs rewards careful listening, Wuh Oh’s commitment to infectiously upbeat melodies, piano hooks and playful, nu-jazz rhythms also allows for sheer audible and kinetic pleasure.
It helps, of course, that Wuh Oh’s onstage presence has developed in confidence of late: as he deftly works the setup of synths and keys, Ferguson assumes the bewitching state of dreamy dance moves and coy hair flips, creating a kind of performative mystique which is well-complimented by a shimmering light show.
Such elements also contribute to the kaleidoscopic atmosphere of much of Wuh Oh’s music: ‘Trippin’’, for example, unfolds slowly its languid, hypnotic trip hop to the backdrop of some similarly colourful and psychotropic visuals.
Part of the allure of Wuh Oh’s live show is its very liveness: Wuh Oh forgoes the safe option of just hiding behind a MacBook and instead opts for the real-time excitement of actually playing keys and synths onstage, carefully balancing crowd interaction with attention to detail.
‘Stay Tuned’, one of the set’s standout tracks, relies heavily on a looping, hypnotically modulating jazz fusion piano sample; like some strange and brilliant flower resulting from a DNA glitch, the song unravels from this curious inner kernel and spreads out its rearranging rhythms with vibrant gratification.
Overall, the performance more than lives up to its sell-out expectations.
There’s something decidedly unique about the warm-hearted quality of Wuh Oh’s output as both composer and persona: not just because Ferguson conducts a lively shout-out to his hometown of Bathgate and endearingly dedicates a track to his family (who are watching in the audience), or because the music has everyone up dancing from the get-go; it’s in the kind of effervescent optimism and energy of the songs themselves, which blend the childlike wonder of experimentation with a focused embracing of many different genres – from pop to jazz, electronica and hip hop – giving the music both a playful and lushly developed aesthetic.
Somewhat provocatively, Wuh Oh’s set is peppered with some unreleased, unnamed musical treats, and this deliberate flirtation with mystery is refreshing in the digital age of content saturation, contributing to the sense of standalone possibility within each of the songs and leaving the audience thirsty for more.
Words: Maria Sledmere
Photos: Cameron Brisbane