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So unusual is the walking concoction of ideas that is MC900Ft Jesus (right), he could be the result of a laboratory experiment. A bookish Texan (real name: Mark Griffin) influenced by rap rather than Garth Brooks, he casts his blade-sharp narratives in free-form jazzy soundtracks.

On the face of it, he sounds a little too studied. But albums Welcome to My Dream and newcomer One Step Ahead of the Spider show this hybrid creature has the zeal to pull off splendid, character-driven stuff. It's just the down-to-earth duties like hitting the road which Mark can't handle. "I don't like touring, but this year I'm starting to enjoy it," he offers gamely. "The band is really good. If people get bored, there's always someone else to look at. I never thought I was cut out to be the front man and motivate a crowd at all. People tend to stand at the front of the stage stroking their beards in Europe, which is better than having a mosh pit - I really hate that."

Truth be told, Mark is a shy, detached kinda chap: the wallflower who as a kid buried himself in literature and music lessons. Live, all the lavish textures and pristine production invested in songs take not so much a back seat as a middle one, as the band are steered by urgent, predatory energy. Which is fine by Mr Griffin. "I read this review of our first London gig that said I had `negative charisma', but over the last five years I've learned to relate to people on a live level."

MC900Ft Jesus, 7 Apr, Astoria 2 (0171-434 0403)