It's Friday the 20th, but it feels like a re-run of one week earlier One of those house moves you feel lucky to survive, never mind want to do again. Still, there's brass in pocket and a ticket to see Paolo Mojo on The Renaissance Digital Asia Tour 2007. Our hosts are Magnetic Soul who recently provided Fabio with his HK debut. New Wanchai "superclub" Heat is the venue It should be crowded tonight...
I've arrived at Heat about 2330 and bump into Manek who says old mate/clubber Karina is on the way. It's cool upstairs. Walk down a long corridor and there's the top of the T, comprising a small(ish) dance floor and elevated DJ booth. Reminds me a bit of the Technoir Club in Terminator. Can't see what magic is being performed, but I guess laptops and CD's are more likely than than clunky-chunky vinyl bags
The support DJ is weaving his magic early on. Lots of darkprog-cum-techhouse. What sounds like slurry Klingon vox samples are layered over humming organs, pulsing beats and the odd burst of clatterdrums. The sound changes to Herbie Hancock style retrosynths meet Yello-inspired cartoon keyboards. There are a lot of subliminal samples, waxing and waning. I always find these 'subs" fascinating to listen to. They seem to be pitched at the midway point where voice meets music. Where 'tronic tones mutate into noisy notes. I have a brief debate with Karina on whether the vox sample is saying "think" or "freak". Another one later seems to change from "I've been banned" to "I'm in the band". Other punters may have their own favourite translations.
In a nutshell, Synecal's set veers from some of Sasha's spacy excursions to Eddie Halliwell's "Bosh"-era rapid-fire editing. The vocals are warped, pitchshifted, growling, keening, rising in frequency. Great whooshes of sound emerge like audio-fog, swamping the sparse audience. (There seem to be about 60 people here for most of the night. Pity, this is a stunning gig so far) There's whibblysynth-whispers, nice cut-n-paste changes in style, lots of emotional high-end kepyboard melodies. Drums, echo and fade over throbbing bass. Hints of "Funky Town" or "Come Together" (by the Beatles) twirl into Giorgio Morodor electro. Is this U2 remixed by Above and Beyond? Yes? No? Maybe? Writing these reviews sometimes, I'm reminded of Frank Zappa's maxim: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture"
It's about 0230 and Sinycal is winding down. Karina's bobbing and bopping in and out of focus. Ditto Manek. The crowd isn't getting any larger. Let's start a new War On Audience Apathy! He finishes with an explosion of Tonto's Expanding Headband-style of Moog mayhem. Liquid gurgling monophones in pleasing harmony die away... (If you're curious, TEH's debut LP "Zero Time can be downloaded. Do a Google search and enjoy the weirdness of 1971 electronic entertainment. That they later worked extensively with Stevie Wonder in his mid-70's fallow period shouldn't be held against them.)
There's a brief silence before Paolo starts. This is his 3rd trip to HK. He did a well-received set at Volar last year and I think I was the only gwai loh who saw his 2001 debut with Tom Stephan in a murky little 7th floor club in Causeway Bay. His set begins quietly (like these go to 6 instead of 11) but he soon kicks in. The digital sound is impressive at times. Great sunbursts of sound fill the room. It's the aural equivalent of eating Tingles (those sweets that crackle and fizzpop in your mouth). Sasha is evident again in the mix (the two of them have toured together). However, the DJ he recalls most is BLIM in all his eclectadelic majesty. There's ambient sound of birds twittering and little kid's voices fusing into electro-bleeps. The New Romantics of the mid-80's come to mind with the keyboards. At one point, a tune comes on that's a kissing cousin to the soundtrack from Zombie Flesh Eaters. It's complete with horrorvox, fleeing in all directions Sometimes, I feel that I'm hearing a full Technicolour performance after years of listening to music in black and white. The red and green swirly lasers add to the potential menace. They look like broken fluorescent worms at one point. No they're rectangles. No they're perforation lines slicing and dicing the dancers. (And NO smoke machines to choke up the floor) The only melody I recognise in his 3-hour set is a sample from "Life In A Northern Town" by Dream Academy. Just one of many blissbreaks studded throughout the set.
Someone tells me that Paolo has lost his edge a little. "He was much better 2 years ago" If so, he must have been awesome. I know he's better than 2001 and I'm enjoying tonight along with the other 60 or so hardy souls. The "techno-hobbit" as Karina's sister, Christian refers to him is playing in Singapore after HK. I'll bet he pulled in over a thousand fans there. They seem to do the big parties better there somehow. Thanks, Nick W. and Magnetic Soul for the ticket. And to keep the candy metaphors going, you put the Quality in the (Lockhart) Street tonight! See you at the Next Big One.
Review by Nick L.