Illustration: John Biddle / johnbiddle.co.uk

Rarely at Bido Lito! do we come across a band whose name lends itself so efficiently to illustrative purposes. Thanks then to Japan’s MOUSE ON THE KEYS, who after their Kazimier show of October 2010, make a swift return to our fair city on March 11th as part of the latest Obscenic extravaganza.

As loathsome as it is to describe a band as ‘genre-defying’, Mouse on the Keys deal in a unique blend of hardcore, jazz, classical, post-rock and drum n bass. What should sound like a monumental mess actually works out as technically brilliant, well-defined and never inthrall of its own intricacies. The band comprises of luminaries from the Tokyo music scene; Akira Kawasaki (drum, keyboards) and Atsushi Kiyota (piano, keyboards) and Daisuke Niitome (piano, keyboards). Essentially a trio who sound like a sextet, the band have carved out a niche in their home country and are now attempting to do the same in Europe, with road trips to our shores becoming increasingly frequent.
After discovering the band on a trip to Japan, Obscenic founder Joe Wills was suitably impressed and made enquiries about putting them on, “I emailed their management, and then a few months after that got a reply asking about the possibility of a UK Show.” The show proved to be a big success, with both parties keen on rekindling the relationship as soon as possible.
It’s easy to see why Mouse on the Keys and Obscenic are such a good fit. As close to kindred spirits as band and promoter can be, both defy simple categorisation, neither concern themselves with genre conventions and they share an interest in music as an audio-visual spectacle. Obsecenic is all about capturing the unique moments that live music creates in abundance; Joe is currently hoarding a huge back catalogue of live footage from previous shows and is keen on showcasing those with an interesting slant visually as well as musically. Mouse on the Keys combine their off-kilter piano and drums with specifically designed projections aimed at enhancing the experience of watching the band live, making them ideal candidates for the Obscenic treatment.

MOUSE ON THE KEYS Image 2

This also true of BARBEROS, who use projected imagery to enhance the live aspect of their electro-noise spandex battering ram. After the 2010 split 12” with Stignoise MMX, Barberos have been touring heavily and are co-promoting the Obscenic show under the ‘I Am Your Barber’ heading. The band have a burgeoning nationwide reputation for their sonic experimentation, sitting comfortably amongst the most forward thinking of Liverpool’s current crop. To complete the visually arresting live package, Barberos appear in Spandex all-in-ones, and will no doubt provide some of the most idiosyncratic footage for the Obscenic cannon.
Also appearing at the Obscenic show, albeit minus Spandex, will be local (fairly) newcomers VASCO DA GAMA. Since emerging in February 2010 Vasco have cut a swath through the Liverpool scene, playing support slots with Hot Club de Paris and White Rabbits, as well as a storming set at our own Inside Pages Festival. In fitting with the other bands on the bill, Vasco pose somewhat of a contradiction, mixing razor sharp time-signature tourettes with big hooks and dancefloor-baiting grooves not usually associated with those shoehorned into the math-rock category. A category, in fact, which also encompasses MOTHER EARTH, a three piece from the almost legendary Croxteth Lodge, home of The Seal Cub Clubbing Club and the sadly missed Indica Ritual, two bands that the members Mother Earth have previously been associated with. Plying their trade in the gorier end of the math spectrum, taking influence from Don Caballero, 2010 saw them take part in the Never Records installation, with a live set cut straight to vinyl. With much lauded Dublin group ENEMIES also gracing the bill, the show seems set to provide a visual, filmic snap shot of the off-kilter, global underground. Maybe the revolution will be televised?
Mouse On The Keys play Leaf Cafe, Bold Street on 11th March

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