Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Masaki Batoh - Kohoutek - Insect Factory -- Velvet Lounge - Nov 2 2010

Insect Factory - I have not seen this duo since the Terrastock festival in Louisville a couple years back, although the drummer plays for Kohoutek and Kuschty Rye Ergot. The guitarist plays some loops and makes noise either via recordings or through the many magic boxes at his feet. The drums are suitably low-key for this atmospheric sound. There were some nice sounds and dynamics and this was pretty effective all told. Not wildly dramatic, but creative and thoughtful.

Kohoutek - I usually struggle to figure out what to say about a band on the third listen. Since this is 8 or 9, I was a bit worried. But immediately I felt silly as this creative outfit had more twists and turns for me right from the opening notes. They featured two guitars, bass, drums, oscillators etc., and a sixth member who started on banjo before moving to a second drum kit. Of course it was the banjo that had me thinking this was their take on Americana which it kind of was and kind of wasn't. It was a great beginning as the guitars and bass played more in an ambient style allowing the banjo, oscillators and ultimately dual percussion to shine through. In the usual fashion, the other instruments slowly came into the mix, but ultimately it was not quite as heavy as previous sets. Still loud and rocking with a clear Hawkwind moment, but an interesting set that is good enough to interest first time listeners and the many of us here tonight who have experienced these guys many times before. Yet another fine half-hour set.

Masaki Batoh - From Japan comes the highly talented singer/guitarist from Ghost. I have seen Ghost a couple of times and Batoh once in a duo with Helena Espvall (of Espers). But this was the first time solo and it was just Batoh with banjo, acoustic guitar and harmonica and not the usual electronic tricks and exotic instruments. His style is a great mix of classic forms and traditional elements from the far east along with his own creative moves. The first banjo part started dangerously close to "Roundabout" by Yes, but thankfully went in other directions (ironic humor is not usually part of his work). Several minutes of the songs focused on his interesting playing prior to vocals. His vocals are outstanding, not exactly Scott Walker but evocative in that direction. There is a mellow rural psychedelic feel through much of the work and it is always highly interesting to me. He finished with the traditional "Black is the Colour" which fit perfectly with his other songs. Hopefully Ghost will hit these shores again some time, but whether you can see their guitarist Michio Kurihara (in Boris or Damon & Naomi) or their singer Batoh, you should see any of the combinations they come up with it. I haven't seen anything less than a very good combination yet. And tonight was a very good night.

Quote of the Night: Although he's very quiet, Batoh apologized..."Sorry to take time tuning, but I rarely play a regular tuning". And if you follow the really great folk artists of history, this is the usual approach, so that is quite alright with me and it was with the rest of the rapt audience.

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