MOON HOOCH/ MARCO BENEVENTO/ TRAINROBBERS, Serious & Academy Events, O2 Academy, 15/9/16
Trainrobbers are two rappers who join in for the last SYLLABLES! It’s a technique that’s admittedly quaintly OLD-FASHIONED! But which swiftly becomes rather ANNOYING! Their set is low-slung, slapdash AND SLOPPY! In the blunted style of icons from the early to MID-NINETIES! By which we mean both Cypress Hill and Trevor AND SIMON! They’re not really very good, ACTUALLY! When we say, “HALF!”, you say, “ARSED!”
As is so often the case, Marco Benevento doesn’t live up to the promise of his opening number, a juggernaut of delay unit baggy groove and barrelhouse joanna which is like a relentless melding of Flowered Up and Lieutenant Pigeon. Had the trio stretched this track out for 25 minutes, it would have been one of the greatest things we’d seen all year. Still, the rest of the set is still good honest fun, if a wee bit desperate to make an impact, from the Screaming Lord Such-And-Such wacky suit and top hat to the simple whoopalong vocals to the chunky knit reliability of the 70s boogie piano. We can’t call him a genius, but we do find a place in our hearts for this Silly Billy Joel.
As an act that started out busking, Brooklyn’s Moon Hooch likewise never miss an opportunity to please the crowd, and their double sax and drums reproductions of dance music tropes with jazz inflections could easily be designed for clickbait videos or tourist anecdotes (“We saw best musicians ever on the subway, must have watched them for 90 seconds; we got this CD that we’ll literally never play!”). Except, cynicism aside, they are absolutely astonishing, crafting a single non-stop hour of club music from full-throttle honking and expertly placed breakdowns, with occasional forays into vintage Michael Nyman arpeggiation (which might explain the snarling John Harle tone often employed).
If the quick-switch tempos and the eye-popping circular breathing spotlights have a sideshow feel to them, other sections are incredibly subtle, one track placing an MF Doom style rap over tabla, and another exploring the relationship between an Evan Parker skronk excursion and a euphoric house anthem. There’s a taste for the military-industrial dubstep rhythms of producers like Distance to leaven the bouncy disco-funk, but it’s the long striated drone of the final track that reveals the band’s truly experimental side. Get people onside and dancing, and you can have them cnheering hands aloft for the most leftfield noise sixty minutes later; this lesson is perhaps the biggest thing Moon Hooch has taken from great electronica. Although making a sax sound like a 303 is pretty good, too.