Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rock re-examined in a red dress

Pika and Oni front Osakan troupe Afrirampo. The two female early 20-somethings were the star turn at the Gallo-curated ATP 2005, and have been growing their profile in the UK ever since. While having fun with the fundamentals of male-oriented rock and debunking the desires of those who see them as the grunge geishas of their more outré fantasies.

On Friday 21 October they were at Upset the Rhythm’s night at the Luminaire, in deepest Brent borough. Second support Leopard Leg from Brighton provided a thundering, female counterpart to Can's freeform yowlfest ‘Peking O’ off Tago Mago. At times about five drummers were employed to propagate sonic chaos. But their desire to subvert rock’s male dynamics may not have been helped by the rather orgasmic finale.

Then Afrirampo came on and energised most rock formats known to Homus Giggus. Initial fears about it being a mere retro glam stomp were quickly allayed, as the “girls” either eschewed or satirised various other rock conventions. The obligatory wade into the small but compact crowd was an amusing exercise in expressing the mutual desperation contained in appeal and adulation, as well as breaking the boundary between performer and spectator. The number of people mucking about on stage at the end confirmed a theatrical atmosphere of self-consciously relaxed riot. Use of grinding heavy/death metal chords was uplifted by drumming that competed and complemented – this never happens in the metal genres mentioned and perhaps illustrates why they are inherently and crushingly conservative. What may have been a bloke offstage working their vox through an FX box only added to the melee.

PIKA write is "our's real music CuleCule stir japan Drop in River Nake. SOON OVER THERE STIRING. Every body Smile. Every body same. ONI also Supponpon (naked) brain rock sing and guitar! So amazing. "SUPPONPON ROCK AFRIRAMPO ! "

On stage they reduce rock's vocal element even further to its essentials, while also entertainingly highlighting and integrating the potential language 'barrier'. A series of yelps, cries and screams correspondent with the context of the song, the “language” irrelevant... vocal chords can make meaning without words.

“You do wonder if they aren’t having a little fun playing with our desire for savagery. Their musical accomplishment is a shock, but not because of their cuteness,” wrote Plan B in their Cover Story a while back. Sure. Clearly there is an awareness of what they are presenting, and such things complement rather than contradict the anti-language on stage, the cod-English booby babble above or the primal rock thump of their music. Naked, it should be asserted, should not be taken literally by the indie spotters/tossers which will inevitably form their prime fanbase. Their “nude minds” are free to think, you’ll laugh out loud and dig the beat while realising their treatment of 20th-century rawk is on to something.

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