PREVIEW: Serious Space Shoreditch (May 16th-21st)

Oy - Photo from Swiss Vibes site

Serious Space Shoreditch, a festival launched by promoters Serious last year, returns to Rich Mix for its second outing, taking in the six nights from Monday May 16th to Saturday May 21st. In this preview, Liam Izod looks forward to three of the events, a double bill of Nik Bärtsch in a duo with Sha, and OY on the Friday; Moon Hooch on the opening Monday; and Kneedelus on the Saturday. All gigs have a start time of 8pm and are at Rich Mix. Liam writes:

Nik Bärtsch & Sha / OY + DJ - Friday 20th May

Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch hypnotized audiences during his King’s Place residency at last year’s London Jazz Festival, and he returns to the capital to occupy the Friday night slot at Serious Space, duetting with bass clarinettist Sha.

Bärtsch’s precision-engineered ostinatos demand discipline from both listener and musician, but the rewards of engagement are rich. The Swiss musician's soundscapes are both mesmeric and menacing, and the light shows that typically sync with Bärtsch’s syncopation ensure a multi-sensory experience. In November Bärtsch appeared in various guises, both with his acoustic project Mobile, as well as the funkier Ronin. In both ensembles Sha’s revelatory bass clarinet playing stood out. His use of the instrument is as percussive as much as it is melodic - this duet will have no less oomph than Bärtsch’s larger ensembles.

Berlin based duo OY feature on the evening’s undercard but could just as easily lead the line-up. Swiss-Ghanaian vocalist and keyboardist Joy Frempong provides spooky techno grooves and spiky political commentary, which is paired with the tribal drum beats of Lleluja-Ha. Lleluja-Ha’s habit of performing in elaborate masks matches Bärtsch custom of taking to the stage attired like a Japanese kendo master. With such theatricality - both visual and musical - your reaction to this Swiss double- bill will be anything but neutral. (SOUNDS)

Moon Hooch - Monday 16th May

The label ‘acoustic’ usually implies a more relaxed atmosphere, but Moon Hooch from Brooklyn are typically iconoclastic in defying this designation. Saxophonists Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen and drummer James Muschler re-imagine the beat drops of EDM by augmenting their horns with re- purposed objects like traffic cones and piping. They call their organic electro ‘cave music’, asserting it provides a post-apocalyptic refuge from the digital excesses of ‘house’ and other electronic music. Moon Hooch are anarchic, but they are also sure to be unmissable live on the Monday that opens the festival. (SOUNDS)

Kneebody + Daedelus: Kneedelus - Saturday 21st May

Whilst Nik Bärtsch’s brand of nu-funk has grooves cleaner than a Zurich pavement, American collaboration ‘Kneedelus’ draw upon the genre’s grittier roots, fusing muscular rhythms with an electronic ambience. L.A. quintet Kneebody arguably deserve near-equal acclaim to East Coast counterparts Snarky Puppy as innovators on the frontiers of funk. They bring their collaboration with prolific producer Daedelus to the Rich Mix stage for the finale of Serious Space. If the show is anything like the album it will offset thickly forested fusion with arresting electro experimentation - an intriguing mix. (SOUNDS)