Tuesday, 15 July 2008
I went to see Soil and Pimp Sessions at the Roundhouse as part of Death Jazz, an evening curated by Brownswood Records. I don't have space or time to discuss the first part of the evening during this post - but the second part was apocalyptic.
The show began with the stage going dark and quiet...the soundtrack, as Shernay rightly put it, had the Kill Bill Element to it - right before the insane action scenes go down...and my god did they go down. The band arrived on stage in robes which seem to have been made by a Japanese master tailor who love dem hoes, walk with a cane and keeps his sewing hand strong. It's a 6 piece - Tabu Zombie (trumpet), Motoharu (sax), Josei (keyboards), Akita Goldman (double bass), Midorin (drums), and Shacho ("agitator") - who shall henceforth be known as the Korg Demon Konduktah (KDK), but more on that later. Tabu and Motoharu began to flirt coquettishly with fans for the crowd but it was somehow still very manly and 'jazz' - then they opened up at about 1000 bpms after KDK yelled something through his loudspeaker about shouting, fun and death jazz - personally I think he was invoking the spirit of Sun Ra.
I've wanted to see Soil & Pimp for a really long time but was worried it would all seem very learned, or 'art', or somehow pretentious - maybe because I'm not overly in to jazz. Instead what I got was an elemental war between virtuosity and passion in a venue shaped like a rocket. KDK appeared to be using it as a vessel to draw in energy streams from the universe, transmit them through the insane sounds he made with his Korg and loudspeaker to the rest of the band, who - predominantly through brass instruments - converted these energies in to jazz and radiated them out in to the audience. Now that is a KONDUKTAH. Somebody tell Sir Simon Rattle. After a couple of tracks the brass retired so the audience wouldn't spontaneously combust and Midorin, Josei and Akita took over with a slightly smoother sound - I haven't heard keys so beautiful & soulful since I saw Robert Glasper and, don't tell anyone, but Josei is serious competition.
It wasn't long before KDK & the brass came back out, Motoharu had shed his robe for a t-shirt which read "LOVE SONG FOR YOU" - and perhaps to give him freedom to do his dancing which was somewhere between butoh, an acid house clubber and an African woman. The sounds that followed left myself, Shernay & Dave (happy birthday Dave) shocking out a la salsa, James Brown crazy legs and the willie bounce (click here if you need a demo by Elephant Man). I spent most of the time holding my brain in - literally. The precision and passion they played with led to some of the most incredible sounds I've ever heard - Tabu and Motoharu hadn't been playing for close to 2 minutes then suddenly came in perfectly in this incredible moment and I found water flying out of my eyes I was so ecstatic. They were all on at least 11 (I pray you've all seen Spinal Tap) all night and as Tabu & Motoharu turned to face each other the insane lighting scheme at the Roundhouse made it seem we were all lost in an electric lightning storm being generated by brass instruments - I started to really worry the thing could take off - apparently the storm also fried my brain. For an incredible closer KDK had us all yell "Soil!" and pump our fists - and at that point if anyone had asked us to go to war in the name of jazz we would have been the most terrifying army since that one that fought in the shade, and in their pants.
I thought it was over but they came back after Gilles Peterson rightly compared the gig to the legendary nights at the Roundhouse in the 70s - Hendrix, The Doors etc. The lighting switched to gay police helicopter mode as they blinded us all with pink strobes and we sang a song for the encore which goes - "la la la, la la la la (complicated I know), la la la, la la la la, la la la, la la la la, lah, lahhhhhhh". KDK thanked us for our smiles, our shouting, and our something else I couldn't understand through the loud speaker (sacrificing our souls to the God of Jazz for an hour?), and we tried to remember our normal human functions. Then for some reason Peterson thought it would be a good idea to play some waste house version of Everyone Nose - at which point I could not bear his sacrelidge and bounced.