Live review from Mellow Yellow
Trying to describe The Interzone Collective’s music succinctly is close to impossible with its many layers of influence, but ‘Mind Music’ (as broad a description as it is) reads better than Neo-classical-jazz-gamelan-jungle-world-fusion.
‘Strange 5’ began with Edmund Leung wearing bells on his ankle, whilst playing polyrhythms on a hand-pan over a droning chime. Guitarist Adam, with his eye-catching Goldtone guitar/mandolin hybrid, was running arpeggios effortlessly in a clean, dry tone, vaguely similar to George Benson’s ‘Affirmation’. The cyclical nature of the music was merely a taster of what to expect from the group’s set.
‘Pocketful of Memories’ began with a triplet rhythm of a broken minor chord on the handpan, before low cello strokes were included by Eric Chan. The guitar work this time by Adam had more of a neo-classical vibe to them, such as Bryce Dessner’s mannerisms simmering in the background. The band introduced an extra member with each passing song, and by the 3rd track ‘Two Pans’, the band was in full flow. As the title suggests, a second handpan was prevalent, creating a hypnotic and tribal mood, like a Sexwitch track (minus any wailing Natasha Khan vocals). The song fluctuated in velocity effectively, and the muted guitar licks channeled Amadou and Miriam subtly.
‘This Day We Fight’ was inspired by Lord of the Rings, and proved to be their most cinematic, with low cello 4ths creating a brash Nordic feeling, under complex rhythms of the handpan, and what can only be described as nunchuck-percussion by Moka Mok, playing the asalato. The most notable moment however was HakGwai Lau’s use of the didgeridoo, aiming it at the younger audience members near the front, almost taunting them.
Lau’s performance became more than just visual in ‘9 Jam’ with various clicks, screams, and low rumbles, resembling wild naturalistic jungle sounds, whilst the crowd excitedly clapped along. Cellist Chan also began expanding the versatility of his instrument, using it as a drum later on in the track. ‘Rebellion’ felt like a collage of all the sounds heard previously, but without any distinct character that had featured so heavily before. Regardless, The Interzone Collective were still being applauded enthusiastically long after they left the stage.
– Chris Gillett