Fuzz Orchestra: Berlin – live review
The latest from our man in Berlin, Barry Lanigan, has him catching Italy’s Fuzz Orchestra.
Never have I gone in so many circles to find tonight’s venue. It’s moments like these that I curse myself for not giving in and buying a ‘smart’ phone. Nevertheless, perseverance and some shaky German language skills finally me here. Italy’s Fuzz Orchestra are in town.
Kili Club is tucked inside the dark heart of East Berlin’s Friedrichschein district, suitably so as it is a club for loud bands and late night techno. Tonight promises to be punishingly loud and fitting for the three acts on the bill. There is a small gathering of about thirty tonight, half being staff and musicians. I wonder if there are others lost and wandering the streets outside.
Local ‘abstract queer noise’ instrumental trio Antihairball are up first. They are fascinating to watch alone. Their transvestite drummer beats the kit to a pulp for the entire gig and the bassist is equally relentless, the bass amp rocking and swaying while the guitar player whips out the repetitive and catchy at will. Musically it’s tight, frantic and rather moreish as the double encore proves.
Decibel levels plummet back to café level while we wait for Contravolta, also from Berlin. Their poster blurb offputtingly read ‘drone funk’. Funk. Hmmm. Dressed a little Mumford and Sons-ish, within seconds of playing I realise this must be some kind of decoy. Their suspender-clad frontman does laps of the dancefloor screaming over some nice heavy grooves. He reminds me a little of Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh in actions, but with a death metal voice which he sometimes manipulates with effects. His and the band’s energy is relentless for the entire set and, although not a funk fan in general, I enjoy Contravolta tonight.
Fuzz Orchestra perform suited and booted in true Italian style. I had the pleasure of supporting them in Dublin with Liz is Evil a few years back and it was a humbling experience.
Touring their second album, Morire Per La Patria, Fuzz Orchestra are equally excellent second time round. These guys’ air-tightness is testament to years of hard touring around the globe and new drummer Paolo is a phenomenon.
Although instrumental, Fuzz Orchestra’s avant noise is layered with clever sampling of Italian voiceovers which vary from crackly early 20th century speeches to traditional ballads. Possibly. It’s hard to decipher and if you don’t speak the romantic language you won’t understand, but it just adds to the atmosphere and the mystery of the music and the band.
Sadhu-like Fabio is the keyboard/sample guru, busily changing records mid-song with abandon, sometimes sacrificing one or two. The noise and the music seems to be his Zen as he thanks the grateful punters after each song with bowed head and prayer pose before cracking his knuckles and summoning the next.
This is the third trio in three weeks I have seen sans bass guitar and, whatever wizardry guitarist Luca uses, Fuzz Orchestra don’t require one either. It makes Tony Iommi sound like Old McDonald.
Nice venue. Great acts. And a Fuzz Orchestra vinyl wins over a train ticket home.
Fuzz Orchestra are currently busy touring Italy.
All words by Barry Lanigan.