Mojo Fury, Before Machines, Kasper Rosa
Ah, poor little Kasper Rosa. They are unfortunate that they're always going to draw comparisons with ASIWYFA, and suffer accordingly. There is nothing wrong with their instrumental post-rock per se, it's just that having got used to the fine vintage offered by the North Coast chaos-bringers, Kasper Rosa feel like supermarket plonk. They don't have the same sense of madness, drive, delusion or dementia. Indeed to compare directly, when Kasper Rosa break a string they borrow another guitar and struggle with unfamiliar equipment, when ASIWYFA have problems (as at Oxegen), the rest of the band step up, and the guitarist throws himself into the crowd. The songs are all ok, good skills on display, and they soar and roar in the right places. 'These Are The Facts' has a pleasingly threatening shimmer to its filmic qualities, and 'You Fool' mixes high rock with a country-blues sleaze low down, but there is a spark missing, as though these are instrumental versions of songs rather than instrumental songs. Indeed they finish with no great fuss, almost as though they realised they have no more material, leaving the stage slightly sheepishly.
Before Machines have expanded since we last saw them, now a four-piece, adding a second guitar with the result that, musically, the songs are beefed up, and the poppier edges have been knocked off. 'Silence She Wins' is still undeniably catchy, but doesn't seem to have grown as much as their other material with the additional guitarist, as they are now able to explore more grandiose instrumental ideas than previously, with 'Before You' now nicely fleshed out, before sweat-dripping closer 'Crossfire' demonstrates that is much more substantial, with a rockier sound than it's previously slightly art-funk-punk incarnation. It will be interesting to see if the change in line-up will prove a catalyst for a change in direction. Watch this space.
Before we discuss Mojo Fury, you should be aware that reviewers and the media are guilty of, and indeed prone to, a bit of hyperbole on occasion. I'll admit that. However, believe me when I say that Mojo Fury are something a big bit special. They may not have ruled City Hall the other day, but in these smaller grittier confines they show us why they are one of our best. The change-up in opener 'Bones' hints at the unfolding deviancy, while 'One More Time' layers almost like the Beach Boys, after a short floating calm. 'Beautiful, Wonderful' throws a dozen ideas at us at once, yet works with a restless brilliance before 'Everything, Everything' adds a paranoid angry grunge to the already heady strange brew, closing on a painfully broken breakdown. 'There's No Way' is gorgeous, the piano raising it to another level, like a lost collaboration between Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and RATM. At this point front-man Mike chooses to reveal that they had been dreading this gig, although we can't see why, for this is a band who can do whatever they want, limited only by their own ambition and the stupidity of the general public (by reading this you have demonstrated your intelligence). Even more intriguingly, they're starting to realise this themselves, and are a more confident proposition than 12 months ago, believing in the strength of their material. Mark next February in your calendar for the arrival of the album - it represents the next evolution of music in this country.