... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

316: Oded Kafri and friend, Piccadilly Gardens

I need to get a camera-phone so I can take my own pictures...
The best busking I have ever seen doesn’t necessarily translate into the best CD I have ever bought (CDs, remember them, they were like physical objects, round mp3s you could see and touch, to lazily paraphrase Stewart Lee).  In Piccadilly Gardens a group of two drummers had set up and were drawing a crowd with their exciting, visually impressive percussive pounding.  One played a traditional rock kit augmented with digital pads and a laptop triggering the musical elements of the songs; the other sat on a bucket, cymbals between his feet and the ground, and a lovely spread of buckets, tubs, pots and pans serving as his instrument.
the other guy, photo by pmcconnochie

They played tightly choreographed pieces that drew people’s camera phones and loose change out of their pockets, and got children running back and forth in sheer excitement.  The sound generated by the atypical polyrhythms and time signatures (and other things I don’t understand) played out on the metallic pots and booming plastic tubs provided the real excitement.  It immediately made me want to listen to Rossz Csillag alatt született by Venetian Snares, and was not only the most exciting busking I have ever seen, but one of the best live music performances anywhere.
Oded Kafri

Between songs the two players encouraged donations from the audience as they dwindled, and punted CD’s at “five pounds each, or you can have them both for ten pounds”.  I might have considered buying them both if not for this weird little anti-sales pitch.  The rock-kit drummer was a serious, grumpy guy with a French accent who I conclude was Oded Kafri named on the CD cover, and the pot-banger was a dreadlocked lunatic who joked with audience members, leapt around and did exercises between performances.  Unfortunately I can find no information about the second drummer.

I bought Oded Kafri’s CD The DruMachine Project which unfortunately doesn’t come even remotely close to capturing the excitement of the street performance.  Oded is an excellent drummer, but his compositions are weak, and he covers most of the music in a dull sing-speak/rap sort of thing.  On the song Listen 2 De Drum, he repeats the command listen to the drum, listen to the drum, yo yet the drums actually hold a very low spot in the mix.  As a result the drumming, which is easily the most impressive aspect of the music, loses it prominence.  YouTube videos of Oded performing are similarly disappointing; excitingly diverse musical influences are poorly combined.
So you know, don’t bother with the boring CD, just hope that one day you accidentally stumble upon a live street performance by the grumpy Oded Kafri and his mysteriously awesome co-drummer.  And if you fancy a taste of what really really incredible percussion-based composition should sound like, then listen to the aforementioned Rossz Csillag alatt született by Venetian Snares (click on the album name to go to spotify).

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