|Poster by Tim Drage.|
Café OTO is a smallish venue tucked away just off Kingsland High Street in Dalston, and the night I went it had a friendly, busy vibe- with sofas and no stage it feels a bit like going to your hip neighbours for a gig in their living room! Unfortunately for me tonight it's a 149 to Liverpool Street and then a long train journey home so I had to leave early and missed last band up of three, Bitchin' Bajas, but caught Demian Castellanos and Tomaga.
A man, a chair, a guitar, a pair of pointy boots and lots of pedals. Demian Castellanos is better known as The Oscillation's songwriter, singer and guitarist but earlier this year released a solo album 'The Kyvu Tapes' which is a collection of solo material from the 90s. I had only heard one track 'The Lizard Raga' which is quite chilled so didn't really know what to expect from a live show 17 years after the last track on the album was recorded but hoped it would be interesting. It was much more than that, it was exciting, atmospheric, visceral and far rockier than I had expected. At times it reminded me of the best bits of Rubycon by Tangerine Dream which is some achievement for one person irrespective of how many pedals you've got! When I wasn't staring at Demian's guitar playing the visuals by Antonio Curcetti (and others) of desolate landscapes in indeterminate places complimented the set adding to the experience.
Like radio messages from a distant constellation alerting us to the existence of artforms we had barely imagined Tomaga are a thing of wonder! Ignoring anything as mundane as genre or pauses between sections multi instrumentalists Valentina Magaletti and Tom Relleen create sets that perfectly balance structure and improvisation, a mesmerising collection of sound sculptures-cum-music, fluid, rhythmic, organic. Seeming to ignore any genre delineation whenever I see them they have metamorphosised again, a recognisable sound but with the components being constantly reconfigured and added to, this evening at Café OTO continued the exploration. It was at this point in the evening, after Tomaga had been on about 5 minutes, that no stage stopped being quirky and became a definite disadvantage as the guy at the front was sizeable and blocked my view of the band-although one positive consequence was that I did more fully appreciate Tomaga collaborator Ross Adams' visuals which as ever were spot on. Whenever I see this band live I'm convinced they might be the most innovative band around. In the mid 70s Bruce Springsteen was labelled the future of rock and roll by an excited journalist, fortunately he was wrong, the future is far more intriguing.