Last minute problems obtaining an entertainment licence meant that this night of Planet µ artists had a lower than might otherwise have been expected turn out. The venue, 93 Feet East, is part of the old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane and a new one, judging by the smell of recently applied paint still lingering in the air and the hastily stuck-on signs for bar, toilets etc.
Leafcutter John was actually first up tonight but our fashionably late arrival meant we walked in on second act Capitol K already in full swing. Capitol K is a one-person project (Kristian Craig) that blends a hip attitude with some groundbreaking music. I sought out Capitol K earlier this year and was bowled over as he dominated the evening despite the support slot. It was a similar experience tonight. Putting a box of goodies (ie laptop), guitar and Theremin through their paces, Capitol K's relentless forays into noisy soundscapes are a constant surprise. The juxtaposition of drum 'n' bass, jazz, dance, techno and industrial cut-ups, loops and samples is a seemingly mad melange that by rights should fail. Yet, despite the array of bleeps, squeaks, guitar chords and sirens, this does work. Amazingly so. It's not just on an intellectual level either, the jumble of sounds converge to produce danceable beats and engaging rhythms. Kristian Craig creates incredibly clever music that refuses to bow to the dry idea that clever cannot mean entertaining.
Another one-man-band in the form of Dylan Nathan, but unlike Capitol K, Jega's stage presence was next to non-existent, many in the audience not realising that his set had actually begun, thinking that the music they were listening to was still being provided by one of the DJs. Relying upon a laptop to deliver most of his sound, Jega crouched at the rear of the stage, keeping a low personal profile, perhaps in the expectation that his music would speak for itself and therefore require no stage 'act'. The hip dance grooves and piano lead lines weren't so inspiring but the overtly electro outings were more interesting. The switching of styles from track to track (also taking in drum 'n' bass and jungle territory) created an unpredictable if uneven set. Jega's multidirectional approach doesn't attempt to shove several potentially conflicting styles into the blender in the manner that Capitol K does so successfully, instead, his angle comes across as a compilation of influences and, like most compilations, not everything is great.
Operating this evening under his Kid Spatula guise was Michael Paradinas of µ-ziq and Planet µ label fame. The Kid was just one of several Planet u artists DJing tonight but I couldn't hang around to the small hours to take in the likes of Hellfish & Producer, and could only catch half hour of Kid Spatula. Tending towards the power beats side of things, Paradinas had two vinyl decks and something else hidden below - out of sight of my prying eyes. The audience appeared to have a large music industry presence and folk either stood rigid trying desperately to maintain a cool image or go bananas in the middle of the hall - several couples darting back and forth to Spatula's beats in an amusing way. Aphex Twin passed by MC Hammer in a strange and not entirely convincing mixing technique, but whatever the set might have lacked it was certainly entertaining - if you had the ear drums to take the bass that is.