Thursday, November 30, 2006

Damo Suzuki

David Cronenberg's Wife want to be the Fall. They really want to be the Fall. Except for the bits where they want to be early REM. But the singer can't sing quite well enough to carry that bit off.

Kontakte take their name from a piece by Stockhausen, and have a heavy Eno influence. It's a bit like shoegazing performed by competent musicians, which is not meant as a sleight. They have moments that suggest brilliance. They need to have the courage to do less. The opening of their set was magical, then the drum machine kicked in and it became a bit more ordinary, albeit with flashes of magic.

I mention the support bands partly because they're worth mentioning, but mostly because members of them form Damo Suzuki's band. This is how he works: he turns up in whichever city he's performing in, picks up some local musicians, and then, in the fashion of a krautrock Mickey Rooney, does the show right here.

I'm being flippant. I shouldn't be, because this show was one of the best gigs I've been to in ages. I can't really describe it, because there's no set list, just a free-flowing stream of consciousness, the band flying while Damo sings, burbles and growls at whim on top of it all. It all ought to be a disaster and self-indulgent nonsense, but it isn't. It's magical. He's a shaman, and I find myself drawn into his sound-world, my mind in a trance, my body moving instinctively to the music. I feel as I think I might at some primitive ritual, where the sheer force of sound transports me from my physical existence to another plane. If you think this sounds pretentious, I don't care, really, because this is how it felt. It's primal, gutteral stuff, a relentless, hard rocking beat underpinning a welter of sound from guitars, one-string bass (a strange looking contraption that looks like a broomstick that's been strung and plugged in) and violin that's almost palpable in its intensity and volume (my ears rang all the way home). He played for an hour and a half, and I'd have been happy if he carried on all night. When he eventually draws the evening to a close (more at the behest of his band than any desire of his own, it seems) he is applauded rapturously by the audience. I'm at the front, and I get to take his hand, and bow to him in a gesture of gratitude. He bounds beyond me into the audience, and proceeds to hug pretty much everyone, as far as I can see. That doesn't make me feel less special. This is a man of huge generosity of spirit, and to him we're all special. This is the only show he's playing in this country this time, I have a feeling we'll all be back for the next one though.

Fuck it, this is how music should be.

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