When Indafusion started a song with nothing but a rather complex dual vocal harmony between the guitarist/lead singer and the bassist/backing vocalist, some strange looks were passed between audience members. The two struggled, sometimes in vain, to stay in tune without hearing their instruments and the melody and harmony lines played a stark counterpoint to each other, with lyrics that were at best introspective, and often absurd. Neither of them could be hailed as terrific vocalist. The drums joins in. The percussionist plays with an intense look of concentration, even on the simplest beats, as if drums are his second language.
Two minutes into the song and that’s forgotten. A short instrumental break includes a bottom-heavy booming riff bass, and some tight fisted heavy guitar work reminiscent of The Misfits and hardcore punk and the audience are less confused about what the band are all about.
That can often be a problem with playing progressive music. I definitely admire the fact that these guys idolise bands like Yes and Gabriel’s Genesis, and they, like their idols, are able to move from contrapuntal multi-layered avant-garde to no-holds-barred Guitar Hero speed-solos, and everything in between; but it’s tough music to accept, especially by the hook-loving masses.
The drums play a big part in painting the picture of each musical scene, whether the backdrop is a woodpecker’s tap, or a stormy ocean crashing on the rocks, and the vocals, when the music gets going, are powerful and gripping.
Next up are Super Adventure Club (pictured). A lot of journalists or reviewers love it when bands don’t stick to established genres, because it means they get to invent their own titles to describe the music (the term “spaz-jazz” was batted about). Others like everything to fit into neat little musical boxes, and can employ the use of hierarchical tree charts and Venn diagrams to describe the exact specific classification of every band they hear. I must admit I relate more to the latter category, and for that reason I’m going to label Super Adventure Club ‘experimentalism’.
They experimented with tempo, timing, time signatures, key, tonality. Yet somehow, against all odds, came out with some really catchy tunes, peppered with witty, surreal, even comic lyrics.
The secret, of course, is that the three of them (drums, bass, guitar. All singers.) Are all music scholars, two of them teachers. Which is just downright cheating.
I’m also trying to avoid the temptation of describing them as lo-fi simply because they reminded me of Pavement. But they did mostly just stick to playing their instruments dry, and when a special effect was used, it was carefully chosen and added an extra angle to the song.
I was, however, upset that they missed out their best song ‘Built In Redundancy’, which is one of the songs that gets played on Fresh Air FM automatically when there’s no DJs in the booth. Even more upsetting was when the crowd were chanting for one more tune, the guitarist tells us “We don’t have any more tunes”. Yes you do! I heard it on your MySpace!!
Both bands have a song about sloths… I’ll leave you with that thought.