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Music At The Brewhouse - Cabaret Baby

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
4 stars
“The next song you’re going to hear will be unbelievable,” enthuses the Rolf Harris sample, Stylophone and all, ushering in the second set by Steven Deazley’s nine-piece junkyard baroque ensemble. Given that what follows in this bite-size recession chic compendium is a cover of A-Ha’s sublime piece of 1980s bubblegum, Take On Me, Rolf isn’t wrong. Especially as in vibes player Joby Burgess’ arrangement it sounds like early Mogwai as played by Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath. Eclectica has become a by-word for Deazley and co, who by this time have already invested King Crimson’s Lark’s Tongues In Aspic with a jaunty car chase blow-out and deconstructed Bjork’s back catalogue via a laptop-led glitch-along collage that adds both bluesy piano and classicist elegance into the mix.

The idea was that each of the band’s six composers take a song that means the world to them and re-arrange it in their own image in-between Deazley’s originals. The result is a series of joyfully playful reinventions which, whatever trombonist John Kenny’s half time raffle suggests, go beyond novelty wackiness to give covers bands a good name. Especially as the raffle prize – the chance to play a vintage typewriter on pianist David Knotts’ take on Dolly Parton’s Nine To Five – is something Matthew Herbert might have concocted.

Deazley’s own compositions back-flip between penny-dreadful Brechtian oompah and an Enoesque strand of low-key 1970s improv via Bill Campbell’s electric guitar and Mario Caribe’s bass. As the foreboding Glasgow noir of Red Clyde gives way to a final fairground whirligig on Ride A Cock Horse, however, even Rolf himself would be able to tell what it is.

The Herald, April 17th 2009



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