But done well – and this night showed again that the Findlay siblings of Stonefield can do it very well – that thick wall of sound can be exhilarating as well as enveloping.
They layer coats of instrumentation, of which the voice is merely first among equals, and slowly revolve with a kind of centrifugal force that pulls you in their wake at first and then, before you realise it, making you part of the thickening environment. You’re not sinking; you’re swimming in it.
With drummer/vocalist Amy Findlay’s voice less prominent in the mix than on record and sometimes being left more shouty than does her justice, you might expect guitarist Hannah to be the dominant figure (something that would be a given in virtually any all male/all ego lineup).
But mostly she prefers to carve out a space in that sonic wall, at times joining the rhythm section with bass player Holly. When she does step out in front, Hannah’s style is spare and focused, allowing her to make a point and retreat to the shared space.
It’s Sarah’s keyboards that often take the melodic lead, especially in bringing the strong edge of psychedelia that regularly surfaces and turns Stonefield from dark, satanic mills to swirling, swinging lava lamp parties.
Likewise, while she doesn’t have the strength or flexibility of Amy’s voice, her singing, in support or in occasional lead, is the kind of colour that lifts the band further away from dirges.
In a live context, the relative weakness of Stonefield’s tunes compared with their drive, power and trippy swing, stands out more.
But there are compensatory factors, including the not-to-be-sneezed-at chance to plant your feet, rock your body and swing your (imagined or otherwise) long hair back and forth like this was 1972.