Sunday, 18 February 2007

Master Chaynjis and Kid Carpet at the Cube

Master Chaynjis/Kid Carpet, The Cube, 17th February

Been quite a musical week for me, what with Devlin and Darko of Spank Rock on Thursday, then le Surge at Hermanos on Friday, and finally last night off to the Cube to see Master Chaynjis launch their EP ‘Only Death can save us’.
I know I have a giggle at the Cube every now and then, but I do love that place, I have a strong emotional attachment to it, and I think in some ways that adds something to my enjoyment of the bands I see there – except that AWFUL one where they were sitting under the stage, I shudder at the memory, I do!
The Master Chaynjis are obvious film buffs, and used this to create the atmosphere of the evening. The staff were dressed as old skool ushers giving out popcorn and choc ices (!) and the evening opened with the beginning of fifties B movie ‘The Siren who fell to earth’. I was enjoying all the wide eyed stares as the siren discovers her new body on earth, when the soundtrack began to be overlaid with the beginnings of the set and the band made their entrance -Sarah on violin and glockenspiel, Ben on double bass (bow fiddle? Someone please explain Jack Lemmon as Daphne to me!) and Sam as lead vocals and guitar.
Sam’s voice is difficult to describe in words, and I want to say that he reminded me of a black woman, but not in the way that Anthony and the Johnsons do, and that does sound a bit trite in ways that I don’t want it to. It is very deep and soulful, with a lift to it that is almost spiritual and really sweeps you in to the music. This mixes well with Sarah’s and Ben’s harmonising, puts an extra weight behind his lead vocal to give the sound of the singing an extra level. His voice is really breathtakingly beautiful, and so unlikely. Sarah sings sweetly, with a jazzy breathiness that complements Sam. Meanwhile, Ben’s double bass works with the jazziness of Sarah’s voice and puts the oomph in to the songs.
So musically it was all gorgeous. And the lyrics and the beauty of the songs blew me away. I’m going to digress for a moment so bear with me. As a writer I feel that honesty is my strongest point, and I find that people enjoy that aspect of my stories, that they feel real, and can be understood through their honesty. This is how I felt about the band’s music. Or maybe a little like I was the object of ‘Killing me softly’. So much of the lyrics seemed to be speaking right to me, and I felt almost in tears through much of the set. I felt that lyrically, the band tackled painful and intense modes, without resorting to overdone images, ridiculous metaphors or cliché. Instead, they presented feelings and emotions as honestly as you can, and in this simplicity lies the power it had to move. I was particularly struck by the line in ‘The bear with a glint in his eye’: ‘his paws touch your feet and you don’t mind’ – with a man watching the girl he loves being with another man, the beauty in that line is that it doesn’t become overdone, the reference to the boorishness and nastiness of the rival is encompassed in passing phrase. I also really loved ‘On the way from your house’, again for its honesty and simplicity. They explain experiences that we have all been through and emotions that we have all felt, thinking of anything other than what you should, because the thoughts are too painful. A lot of things were coming home to me. It is the moments that you get in songs like these which are most moving, moments that are understated and so powerful in their quietness.
The band showed a promising variety in their music as well. There were the slow numbers which were painfully beautiful, but an obvious folk and country influence came in to play also. Near the beginning of the set was the up-tempo ‘Jacqueline Denbigh’ (I hope that is right?) which resembled the patterning of an old country ballad, telling the tale of what happened to Jackie, that was part Victoriana, part Johnny Cash. Lovely! Plus they kept up the great fifites visuals which complemented well the songs that they used them against.
As performers they were such good fun to watch. They exuded a real love and warmth for what they were doing, making jokes with the audience and explaining funny anecdotes about the songs, setting them apart from the all too ubiquitous take ourselves too seriously crowd. Their ease made the evening so much more fun, and really had an effect on the audience’s reactions to the song, as they took you from one emotional extreme to the other.
The “intermission” featured a musical saw played by a man who had walked out of the twenties. Which always makes me happy! He made the saw play sweeping sounds over a stringed background to great effect, felt like I was in ‘Cabaret’ which is a good place to be.
Next up was Kid Carpet. Can’t believe this was the first time I was seeing him, having heard so much about him, and he was worth the hype. He was like an explosion of electronica energy onto the stage, and played the audience as well as he did his sampler, making them laugh and dance in their seats. He has such a good use of sampling and looping, the songs seem really organic and he is right on beat. Mixed with his baby synth (I think that is right, was hard to see) and his unique vocal stylings the whole effect is really really fun. What is interesting however is underneath all the hyperactivity his lyrics contain a pretty serious message, be it about mainstream culture, class or the Olympics. Plus I have never heard someone put so much life and feeling in to the words ‘boob job’ before! A particular highlight was when he got out his toy guitar and with its customised samples, and when he played the invisible guitar. I’m such a sucker for people picking the weirdest samples and making use of odd objects as instruments, so I really enjoyed his sound. And although innovative, he is a completely unpretentious performer, something which can be quite rare in electronic music sometimes! He is so wicked to watch, he exudes a joy of the music and of performing that gets the audience swept up with him. It doesn’t even matter if he makes a mistake, because the crowd are behind his every move. And like Master Chaynjis, he uses simple but poignant lyrics with energised and complex music to astounding effect.
And I can’t say much more than that.

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