Music: Pop: I'm Sure I Saw Them on A Poster...

The Independent's Regular Round-Up of New Bands: Chicks Astoria, London U Innersleeve Barfly, London U Karamasov Garage, London
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The Independent Culture
CHICKS WEREN'T big on lyrics. Their first song saw them shouting "na-na-na na-na na-na-na" with no discernible enthusiasm and enacting elementary guitar figures that left the audience slack-jawed in disbelief. Their tunes weren't up to much, either, probably because their vocals were so piercing that only mice would have been able to detect a fluctuation in pitch. Chicks espouse short, punky numbers that are designed to fill you with joyful abandon but left me virtually weeping into my pint with embarrassment. The three Dublin teenagers have fallen victim to the conviction that youthful attitude is more important than talent. But Chicks' only flash of anarchy - seen when they dropped their instruments and gave them a half-hearted kick - seemed prompted only by the prospect of leaving the stage.

Innersleeve were hardly an enticing prospect either. They looked as if they were steeling themselves for ritual punishment as they walked on to the stage. Their opening number harked back to the shoe-gazing days of Ride, but lacked the gravitas of their forebears.

But as their songs gathered pace, Innersleeve seemed to warm to their surroundings. Later songs offered more substantial guitars and meatier vocals while their last, largely instrumental track drew together eerily undulating guitars, doom-laden drums and exquisite melodies that made you hold your breath. This epic aria seemed eternal, though its conclusion came as a cruel shock and left you gasping.

Karamasov seem to have aged before their time. This Anglo-German quartet slowly nodded their heads and gazed into the middle distance like seasoned session musicians, while their music had a timeless quality that would have sounded just as alluring from a gramophone.

Their elaborate mixture of electronica and prog-rock evoked the experimental ruminations of Tortoise and the retro-kitsch of the French duo Air. There were also perfunctory nods to original Krautrockers, Faust and Can. They tinkered with clashing rhythms and seemingly incongruous sound-effects, and you couldn't help thinking that you might have stumbled upon a jamming session that no one was supposed to hear. This experimental noodling sometimes dissolved into incoherent background noise. But there were glimpses of blissful acoustic melodies that arrived like a blast of fresh air in a sticky sauna.

The customary pretentiousness of Karamasov's post-rock genre was far more evident in the crowd than on the stage. With style magazines babbling about prog rock's revival, it's inevitable that this kind of gig should be full of 18-year-olds in combat trousers and ludicrously large shades. For a band to sound so different from their contemporaries comes as a blessed relief, but the acid test will be how long Karamasov can hold on to this flighty fan-base. Perhaps true devotees know that everything they need to hear is buried deep within their parents' record collection.

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