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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:05 pm 
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Location: Pak Kok Village
More from Nick's review email archives, some of them published on other websites before. Just completing the review archive for Nick's website:
http://www.Lamma.com.hk/nick

Caribou at Grappas - 1/7/2010 - by Nick the Bookman


....Bravo, Caribou. Deer me, that was one elk of a show. I moose definitely will see them again, should they return to musically graze across the local tundra. What more can I say?

(That's it? That's the review? A collection of cheesy jokes more suitable to the tabloids? It's not good enough!) All right, time for take two.

Its the 13th Anniversary of The Hangover and I'm on my way to Grappas for another excellent concert put on by Justin and The People's Party. He's already brought Andrew Bird and Secret Machines to HK and this gig by Canadian digidelic quartet Caribou should be another huge success (if there's any justice in the world of indie gig promotions). Caribou began life as an outlet for the electronic whimsy of Canadian Dan Snaith who Uncut magazine has described as a "fellow traveller of electronic artists like Four Tet" (aka Kieron Hebden) His ambient soundscapes have mutated over the years into a "psychedelic dance music which has a lush and reverberent character of its own". This has meant forming a live band to take on the road. As usual I only found about the gig a couple of days beforehand and, well, here I am in the bowels of Grappas Restaurant.

Some smooth cocktail piano/sax is plinkety plonking and squeakily honking through the rapidly filling venue. Long time local producer Skip Moy who's behind the mixing desk tells me it's Stan Getz live. A soothing start to this soiree, although deceptively misleading as to the sonic adventure that is in store for the full house audience. The opening act is Choi Sai Ho who I thought was the star turn at the recent Time Out show at the same venue. His hyper-kinetic blend of rapid click beats, eerie Mogadon space jazz, samples, live flirtations with Laurie Anderson inspired violin and lapses into industrial noise and squelchy synths is pretty much the same set. Familiarity does not breed contempt in this case. It's just as jaw-dropping as my first introduction to his work. There's a cool visual show, incorporating rapid cut editing of Hong Kong skylines, architecture and roads. And lots of strobe light action, gauged for maximum time-lapse effect, without inducing epileptic fits in the rapt audience. The tunes include "Micro Flux", "The Educators", "Pianohead", "Violin Cityscape" and "Dancing Failure". The last track features singing by Kenneth Tsang, from the group Modern Children. Kenneth is an old school mate of Sai Ho's and the two played together in Modern Children between 2006-2009. Sai Ho remembers me from the Time Out gig and we have an enjoyable chat-cum-catch-up.

Justin had put together a nice mix of indie, punk and dub tunes in between the sets. It was especially nice to hear "Bankrobber Dub" by The Clash. I've spotted a few familiar faces so hi to Mike Robot and drummer Paul from DP. Sorry, I missed your launch party the night before. And now, it's 2200 and four amiable, smartly-dressed tee-shirt wearing dudes have taken the stage. Caribou are ready to stampede all over us. I presume that one of the guys is Dan. Probably the one playing Korg microkontrol MIDI Studio controller, the smaller drum kit and doing the bulk of the singing. I didn't manage to get the names of The Other Three so over to you to correct that mistake, Justin. I know them as The Main Drummer, The Singing Bassist and The Guitarist on Keyboards.

Caribou will perform an 8-9 song set I think. I lost count midway through after being beguiled by the "lush and reverberent" melodies. They sound like a stunning mix of Brian Wilson and The Wondermints doing old Beach Boy classic releases coupled with some of the new Acid-Baroque Americana-cum-Folk bands like Besnard Lakes, Fleet Foxes or Joanna Newsom. Not exactly mind, these are just hints of musical directions. Some of the found sounds and psychedelic touches also recall The Flaming Lips and The Dukes of Stratosfear (aka XTC in mindwarp mode). There are crazy chimes. sounds like mahjong tiles being shuffled and clacked on a table, ripples of liquid notes like water rushing over stream stones. There are sugary passages of play and some nods to Middle Eastern tonalities and World Music. There are keyboard and guitar passages like icy shards snapcracking, recalling old Joy Division. There are solo songs and duets hinting at jaded choirboy antics. I've blissed out about 3 times during this majestic, soaring set. The final song "Sun" is flashbacktastic. A refrain of Sun,sun,sun,sun..." is sung live and sampled and fed back into the mix to re-emerge, shifting in volume from a scream to a whisper. I think the sample was probably pre-set and triggered to save time. Reviewing my scrawled notes I see that I've written "THIS IS LYSERGIC!" in mighty capitals. It's up there as a blissful memory, on a par with first hearing The Stone Roses eponymous debut LP. It was the only possible song to end the show.

Caribou have gathered by the entrance to schmooze with the fans and sell a CD comprising the songs of the just completed set. Like a muggins, I've overspent elsewhere and don't have enough money to buy a copy. Note to myself. Buy the new CD "Swim" at the first available opportunity and hope that "Sun" is on it. If any audience members are going to be in England in September (can't imagine why personally) then hie yourselves down to the Larmer Tree Gardens in North Dorset. The End Of The Road FestivaI takes place between the 10th-12th of September and Caribou are on the bill. I don't have too much time to chat as I've got a sick wife at home and it's time for feets', do yo stuff to make the ferry home. Thanks, Justin for another memorable five star gig and Bravo, Caribou...

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