Sunday, 12 December 2010
Dirty Projectors - Koko, London - 07/12/10
An odd, and seemingly mismatched, pairing often produces surprisingly wonderful work, just look at Laurel and Hardy and Little and Large; and the Koko has managed to shove two critically acclaimed acts with rather disparate fan-bases, identities and musical ideologies. I was lucky enough to be the middle of this musical Venn diagram, witnessing the London trio of noisy rockers Male Bonding support the gang of rhythmically experimental indie-poppers Dirty Projectors. Right from the get-go, there was so many beanies, beards, Christmas jumpers and fake glasses (though I had 2 and a half of those, so no complaints), and growing crowd of surging punters pushing into the stage and bustling around the balconies that encompass the venue.
Male Bonding are a trio of incessant noisemakers, concerned with the pulverising rhythms that shake both a skull and a tailbone. On stage, the continually rambling guitars and distortion manifest themselves as a mumbling metal, bogged down in a greater gravity than the rest of us wade through. That’s not to say there isn’t anything spontaneously catchy here, far from it in fact. The likes of ‘Franklin’ have genuinely addictive wanderings ploughed right down the middle, albeit surrounded with a veritable frenzy of fuzz, feedback and force, like a cosy, mountainside cabin caught in a landslide. Everything on display shows that Male Bonding simply love to take a melody and mire it in muck, a tactic that may have discouraged a few of the more melody minded who came to see the headliners roll around in harmony and carefully constructed cacophony, as opposed to these three grungy givers of sonic gravity.
Dirty Projectors sneak onstage to a roar, and proceed to show that they are undoubtedly an efficiently tight-knit act, who have risen, slowly but surely, into one of the most intelligent bands on the planet, using several records to hone their highly strung sound into a consolidated mass of effects and soul. Three female vocalists (Amber, Angel and Haley) share the spotlight, along with lead male vocalist Dave Songstreth, and utilise their distinct vocal affectations like rudders in the musical sea, changing pace from classic rhythmic blues to sweetly sung lullabies, before launching into something that wouldn’t sound out of place on another planet. The Bjork collaboration earlier in the year makes an appearance (sadly without the avant-garde Icelander) in the midst of the set and the coming together seems to have bought out the passion of three female furies, whose intonation and timing bring utter shame to so many of the current female singer songwriters saturating the charts (no names mentioned).
The funk of ‘No Intention’ churned up a densely packed and sweltering crowd, who, nonetheless, also pulsated to the vigour and screech of ‘Knotty Pine’. What project is either really tight funk or incredibly loose indie rock, walking the thin line between overpowering breakdowns and softly, sweet odes sung to someone special (your heart and ears seems to tells you that it's you...). Once in a while, the softer, more simplistic tracks where vocals and guitar takes centre stage detract from the clamour built up over the space of a frenetic few tracks. However, when the lyrics of 'Two Doves' cascades from the stage, tenderly uttering "Kiss me with your mouth open, for your love better than wine", the heart melts and the respite feels much needed. 'Stillness Is The Move' bought the crowd to fever pitch, with a handful of improvisational jams and winding paths of sound, although the whole group always seemed prepared and able to dive straight back into the thick of it when called upon.
A truly chaotic finale and a sense of awe as the Americans left the stage, all smiles and gratitude, a Koko crowd went home satisfied, safe in the knowledge they had witnessed two of the most innovative, intensifying and intoxicating bands on the planet.
Words: Adam Parker