Published 5 December 2011 on Culture Vulture
Howard Assembly Room, Leeds
Saturday 3 December 2011
Sonic intensity: that’s the Flower-Corsano Duo. Known for his collaborations with Bjork and Richard Bishop of the Sun City Girls, Chris Corsano is a visually fascinating, technically brilliant and highly experimental drummer. Watching him incorporate violin strings, Tibetan singing bowls, mallets, bows and hybrid thrash-jazz into his performance knocks you for six, making you wonder if he has some secret, additional arms growing somewhere else.
He’s joined by Leeds’ own Mike Flower from the drone ensemble Vibracathedral Orchestra, who has at his hands a shahi baaja, a fascinating instrument that’s a type of Indian zither, amped up and overdriven to the point where it’s not that far away from heavy metal. Add a dronebox into the mix and the set becomes an explosive mix of sonic rises and falls, the sound soaring upwards towards a white-noise peak – then slowly, gradually falling again into a calming drone. Exhilarating. Cleansing, even. Think of Lightning Bolt, then turn it up a notch. Leeds should be proud that one of these brilliant musicians is from this city.
Group Inerane are from Agadez in northern Niger. With two electric guitars, bass and drums, the Tuareg music they play is instantly danceable, similar to the music of the slightly more famous Tinariwen. Their music is part of a musical revolution originating in the Libyan Berber refugee camps in the 1980s, with the guitar substituting the rifle as a political weapon. Unfortunately, Group Inerane have been forced to change their lineup since their first album was released in 2007, after their second guitarist, Adi Mohamad, was shot dead during the recent Tuareg rebellions in West Africa.
This electrified Sahara sound is, essentially, amazing party music. It’s a shame that the Howard Assembly Room has seats tonight, but nevertheless people are dancing in their chairs, the balcony and the aisles – the rhythm shuffles and syncopates so much that you’ve just got to move your body somehow. If there’s one criticism, it’s that this evening seemed a bit short, but perhaps that’s because the music was so engrossing.
Leeds – more gigs like this please!