It is with a heavy heart and the sickening pang of schadenfreude that I thumb through The Purple One’s obituaries in the dimly lit café of the Everyman Theatre prior to tonight’s show. Sometimes It Snows In April is the general consensus – and by far the most sagacious retweet of an endless online outpour.
Quite their own revolution, Deep Hedonia have delivered two forward-thinking and uncompromising shows as part of their Everyman Bistro residency so far this year, featuring Laura Cannel and and introduction to live coding from Joanne. We are told they’re ready to receive us, so the gathering crowd eagerly make their way down the stairwell to the Bistro. A large projection and a block of seating greets us from the far end, as the night’s ample entrée GERMANAGER prepares himself to begin, a strange hybrid of his face adorning the screen. Rnrnb is a powerful introduction to the world of Germanager (aka Alex Germains): there’s a touch of Richard Dawson about his melodic dissonance, as melodically crunchy guitar lines dangle over a precarious-sounding backing track. His beef-witted humour is very dry and exactly to my taste; at one point he stops to reflect that Prince was “up there with Paul Daniels”.
Just when we think we are through the looking glass, pop reconstructivists THE ALEPH arrive to tip the balance of distinction. Formed in 2013, The Aleph was initially a project that was commissioned for a special performance at Tate Britain, which was subsequently premiered at London’s Café Oto the following year. The avant jazzisters presumably derive their name from the Jorge Luis Borges novel – in the book, The Aleph is the fulcrum point in the universe where all angles meet – making for an apt title for a duo who successfully refract a plethora of musical invention. Another equally credible line of enquiry may reference Charles Avery’s fertile imagination; the Scottish-born artist sketched and sculptured elephantine demigods of the same name (his most famous piece being a giant Aleph head), a totem of anatomy that these lads have form with.
The Aleph’s eccentric maestros, Jonathan Hering and Benjamin Fair, are perhaps most recognisable as two of the faces of acclaimed percussive ensemble Ex-Easter Island Head. This evening, however, the duo take on an entirely different guise, one that is equally stunning in its invention. Swinging Mary is a slow-burning Roman Candle of a tune that builds with a flurry of deftly administered claps and loops. Gleeful overtones of humour course throughout the arrangement, and there’s a cunning refrain that zips it all together succinctly. But their most beguiling number by far is She Hangs Her Coat On The Highest Pin, which utilises a pair of duelling sewing machines. I am in awe. Don’t leave it so long between shows next time though lads.