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Islam Chipsy, Dead Rat Orchestra, μ2 Colchester Arts Centre, 11/12/2015

It seems like Colchester has been doing a good job of bringing the weird and wonderful world of music home recently, but I was still fairly surprised to read about Islam Chipsy and E.E.K, an eclectic keyboard player performing with two drummers, playing improvised pieces. Watching a few videos online, I was sold; it looked insane and yet still musical. The support on the night sounded like it’d be top class too, so it seemed like a no brainer.

Opening the night was the job of newcomers μ2, complete with their fairly eclectic setup – bongos, harp, spoken word and didgeridoo were all taken and manipulated through electronics, all the while interpretive dance was performed at the front of the stage. Musically I was expecting a difficult listen but it turns out, despite the odd setup, their songs were fairly inviting, everything sounding fairly lush blended together. The spoken word elements were perhaps the most surreal, the squashy octave effect creating a more monstrous sound. It’s hard to believe that this is their first show! Definitely a band to keep an eye on. They next play Colchester February 13th at The Waiting Room for Love Love’s Anti-Valentine’s party.

The next set came from Dead Rat Orchestra who, it would be fair to say, had a fairly interesting time performing. The two piece with their fairly eclectic collection of instruments set themselves down in front of the stage (something they possibly regret now!) and set to work creating impressively textured tunes. The strong vocals only help matters as they break into an acapella track, standing well clear of the microphones, harmonising each other perfectly. The set isn’t exactly uneventful; early in the set a man approaches the band and repeatedly asks for the microphone, after trying to strum some of the instruments – the band eventually relent, leading to a surreal moment where they keep playing as the man just talks over them – I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or just be shocked! Their set came to an end when the same man crashed into their setup. Odd moments aside, Dead Rat Orchestra were absolutely stunning, incredibly strong performers.

Then the moment arrived: Islam Chipsy and E.E.K. The three piece came on grinning, which was clearly infectious, the whole audience swept up in smiles as the first few notes came in. The set, while improvised, was technically insane: the stop start nature of the tracks, the insane synth parts and the way the two drummers played off of each other was marvellous. Even though the songs were fairly long, they didn’t get boring. I couldn’t help but feel glee spread across my face as the song returned to it’s original riff after a few minutes of complex performing. I’m not one to move my feet at a gig but found myself sucked into the sound and the energy. One of the best performances of the year.

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