Okraa | Machines In Heaven | Phoene
Hug And Pint, Glasgow
17th October 2015
Ably supported by eclectic and at times electric trio Machines In Heaven, Okraa displays all the charisma and talent to be a big money signing for Glasgow label HotGem Records. We may well have a future star on our hands tonight, writes Vosne Malconsorts.
An evening that promotes some hot debate is never a bad thing now is it, and tonight most definitely does that. Helpful since Glasgow has finally relinquished any claim to being climatically acceptable for the year. Ironic given the warm grooves to be supplied by the headline.
First up is an intimate, but nonetheless lively dj set by Parisian export Phoene. Slight in stature she may be but it is solid, squelchy, bleepy and groovy. I’d hire her and you can’t say fairer than that. Interesting artist in her own right as well – witness the soundtrack to recent mixed media effort Snowblind. Eerily effective.
As she skips off Machines In Heaven romp on and continue the rich vein of form they are exploiting at the moment. After an excellent performance at Sunday Circus recently this is a more intimate affair but is no less beguiling. From ambience to four to the floor thumpers, somewhat reminiscent of Russ Gabriel’s earlier output on the Ferox label, it’s full of beautiful melody teased from the two keyboards, a laptop and funny little box on a wire. Could have been an X Box controller for all I know but who cares when what’s coming out the speakers is so tasty.
Keep an eye on these fellows. Spirited and lively but more to the point, talented.
Three things that can also be said about Juan Carlos Torres Alonso – aka Okraa. And yet …. and yet ….
There is no doubt about it; this guy can do it. My compadre is transfixed and there is nothing about the really quite massive, carnival inflected electronic grooves that suggests anything other than a rather substantial star in the making. And he can produce – his beats are at times quirky and interesting but all the while deliver a forceful and perfectly desirable punch in the kidneys. Twisted and manipulated vocals mix with joyous keyboards. It’s dancey as hell and the Colombian is gleeful presence hopping about on stage.
And therein in lies the crux. Though perhaps it isn’t one. Perhaps, in fact, it will be a central plank in what has all the potential to go ballistic. For while your reviewer enjoys the sway and sees the good times roll in, he can’t quite escape the feeling that it’s all a touch safe. A touch too geared at pleasing pop at the expense of fully exploiting the creativity and nouse? Nowt wrong with pop of course but when occasional breaks take the most unexpected and glitchy turns, that is where things come alive. The happy joie de vivre vibes- not so much.
Maybe I’m just a miserable old bastard. I am a miserable old bastard. But it seems an undoubted talent that could be channelled in many more interesting ways, over and above getting a few thousand folk going mental. Because he definitely has the broad appeal to achieve the latter. The forthcoming Vultur EP (HotGem) picking up attention from varied observers indeed.
I am in the minority though. A minority of one. The consensus is that this is a rare thing. Music of dexterous integrity that just so happens to be an incredibly accessible excuse to shake that ass.
Words by Vosne Malconsorts. This is Vosne’s first piece for Louder Than War.