Vanity Project

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Evangelista, ?Alos, Keiki @ Brussels Les Ateliers Claus.

Evangelista, ?Alos, Keiki.
Brussels Les Ateliers Claus. 14sep12.

Western continental Europe has produced male/female perky pop duos of distinction before; Persil, of Amsterdam, bubbling instantly to mind. To them we can now add Brussels-based pair of Dominique Van Cappellen-Waldock and Raphaël Rastelli, gathered here under the name Keiki. Their bio and websites like to play up the idea of them being evil and satanic, and yet at first glance they appear far more likely to turn up at a petting zoo than a blood sacrifice.

We can assume that all this is tongue-in-cheeky, especially when you consider that not only do they sing in English (Van Cappellen-Waldock being partly from British stock), but a Bonzo Dog absurdist English. The lyrics take a route from not wanting “to be your toothbrush” to “toad-in-the-hole” and “Skegness”. Amidst all this smirking silliness is an astutely sparingly-used theremin, and a cover of Black Sabbath that exchanges the Matthew Hopkins headgear for a conical party hat.

It is perhaps just as well that the witchfinder chic is out as following Keiki comes pagan-performance-punk ?Alos who appears clad in black, face daubed with charcoal stitch-lines and red smears, and with several bells knitted into her ankle-length dreadlocks. The locks sway, causing a delicate twinkle, as the audience envelops her off-stage wanderlust, but this is the calm after a storm that initially takes in primal screams, unsettling plainchant and abrasively droning doom chords.

Carla Bozulich also has the ability to take a room by the scruff of its neck, tease it, terrify it, and walk amongst it unconcerned with boundaries. Tonight, however, she remains stage bound with her three touring bandmates Tara Circus Barnes, John Eichenseer and Dominic Cramp, collectively known as Evangelista. Tied to her post she might be, but with a voice that goes from brittle heartbreak to fire n’ brimstone retribution at a stroke, Carla is a presence that captivates from wherever she is choosing to perform.

Doffing a Stetson towards her country-rock past, the set opens with a couple of numbers by one of her many previous bands The Geraldine Fibbers; Outside of Town and Lilybelle. Indeed, it is quite a career umbrella of a set with Underdog by the Scarnella record made with Nels Cline, all the way to Let It Roll, a staple of Carla’s recent duet sets with Eichenseer (the economic reality being that it cannot always be the full band that tours). For the completest, all it needs is for something from her full LP cover of Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger to appear and for Ethyl Meatplow’s Happy Days, Sweetheart record to receive acknowledgement in song.

Needless to say, all of the four solo/Evangelista records from the past six years are represented, with You Are A Jaguar padding around its cage territorially, Artificial Lamb gradually applying layers of warming and cloaking pelt to its frail skeleton and a cover of Low’s Pissing that stays faithful whilst also taking it a little darker, further down into the cave.

It is during these latter numbers where old musician friends from Brussels join on percussion and cello, adding to the semi-improvisational drone and clatter sequences in Winds Of St Anne and Hello, Voyager. The latter is a collision of drums, with Carla rapping on a marching snare and bellowing like a soapbox street preacher. “This is me selling you out, when you needed me most” she hollers, the power and exhalation of confession and denunciation clambering over the violin twists, the cathartic hammer-on-skull drums and the eerie, psychopathic composure of certainty that underpins all this turbulence.

However, it is Winds Of St Anne that takes the prize as the set highlight, as it crawls through the haze of an Arabian desert-scrape, ridden with the impact sweat of the dry heat, the lyrics anticipating a new life in preparatory stream of consciousness (“When the wind blows, there are no rules”) as the bursts of excitement leave a tension in their wake.

More photo’s from the show here


September 22, 2012 Posted by | new reviews | , , , | 1 Comment