Gig review – Rocketnumbernine @ Electrowerkz

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Ben and Tom Page of Rocketnumbernine at Electrowerkz – 20/02/2013

Last night (20/2/2013) I went to see Rocketnumbernine play at Electrowerkz in Islington, a venue I hadn’t visited before.  The first thing I noticed about Electrowerkz is that the owners seem to have a bit of an Aliens fetish going on.  A sign near the entrance name checks Hadley’s Hope and I noticed a few USMC symbols stencilled on the walls inside.  The bar area, the centrepiece of which appears to be half a tube train carriage, is decked out with what appear to be ammunition crates that might be found in the loading bay of the Sulaco.  Very unusual but it lends the place an interesting vibe, although I was wary that there might be facehuggers around…

Rocketnumbernine are brothers Ben (synths/samplers) and Tom (drums) Page.  The duo have been honing their set and now present a staggeringly fresh take on ‘dance’ music.  This is music that you can definitely dance to but without the clichés of drum loops and synth sequences.  There are no Superstar DJ’s here waving their hands in the air, this is as live as electronic music gets.  The beats are live, played out by Tom, with some of the funkiest drumming since Clyde Stubblefield recorded with James Brown.  The synths and samples are all played live, with no sequencers running, giving the sound a raw edge and breathing life into the performances.

The pair have collaborated with Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet) in both live performances and studio recordings, the most recent of which, Roseland, is due to be released any day now.  Hebden, who might possibly eclipse lesser acts,  joined the band using a minimalist laptop/controller setup to perform a couple of tracks together, adding a brighter element to the proceedings, but it was truly Rocketnumbernine’s stage.

Fan favourite tracks were played, including Lone Raver and Matthew & Toby, this time embellished with elements of Four Tet’s outstanding remix of the track.  For me, the greatest performance of the evening was Rotunda, a thumping, tribal drum-infected number featuring synthetic stabs and squawks which shook the packed-out room to its very core.  I’m told that this fantastic dance track will feature on the forthcoming, and long awaited album, which Ben promised the audience would be out on 21st May.

Overall – Absolutely brilliant stuff!

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