POP MUSIC / High hatters: Bark Psychosis. What a name. But can they play? Review by Joseph Gallivan

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The Independent Online
Bark Psychosis - what a horrible name. Ultimately, it would be best to file them in a special area in the old CD tower along with King Crimson, Talk Talk and the daddies of them all, Can. If it's choppy, percussive keyboards, incisive guitar and a relentless, pulsing rhythm section you're into, the Bark are your boys.

Austere, unfriendly, and notoriously negative (in interviews they frequently rail against the world), they had planned a treat for the fans. Instead of a support band, they were to show the bolexbrothers' film The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb before their set. Unfortunatley, someone digging up cables on the Euston Road put out the power for a couple of hours and the punters were forced to wait in the street.

The film was sorely missed, since Bark are not exactly Queen when it comes to putting on a live show. Singer and guitarist Graham Sutton, who spent much of the time three- quarters turned to his drummer, conveyed enthusiasm by a slight bend of the knees. As he was surrounded by various other musical statues and people with newly developed keyboard skills, one was forced, if not seduced, into contemplating their ambitious ambient soundscapes.

For the inventors of 'Scum', the 1992 'single', a 20-minute monster recorded in a crypt with the church as 'the fifth instrument', have discovered computers. As they ran through their forthcoming CD Hex, this proved a good thing. Although they still indulge in building what's known as 'sonic cathedrals', the heavy electronic backbeat, when it came, proved the most satisfactory way of holding the show together.

In another wise move, they also appear to have abandoned their moments of hysterical shouting - the vocals were kept strictly at the Art Garfunkel level of audibility. What does survive, however, is the nagging 'ting, ting, ting' of the high hat cymbal. Talk Talk, once their label had given up trying to make them into another Duran Duran, developed this as their favourite musical trope. Aside from the cool jazz associations, Bark Psychosis used it as a device to mark time in their long periods of indulgence. It became normal for a lonely guitar chord to be repeated eight times, or 16, while the audience slumped lower in its velvet seats, pinned back by the slowed-down strobe lights.

When they rocked, though, they did rock, sounding like U2, or the Osmonds doing 'Crazy Horses'. With their incessant switching on and off of mood, however, they may have come into the digital age, but it can't be very good for their mental health. Or ours.