Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Marching to their own beat


Jaxson Payne is proof that, with a little bit of forethought and imagination, electronic musicians can offer audiences a more engaging visual spectacle than merely the sight of a man (and yes, it's almost invariably a man) bobbing his head and tweaking some knobs against a projected backdrop of rudimentary graphics.

Dextrously triggering an array of pre-programmed samples using an electronic drum kit, Payne constructs complex drum 'n' bass that makes a mockery of anyone who would draw a rigid distinction between recorded product and live performance.

When John Colpitts aka Kid Millions picked a name for his solo project, his choice - Man Forever - was eerily prescient. Not only did he cheat death in a serious high-speed car crash in Los Angeles in March 2018, but he has gone on to make a full recovery from his injuries.

Colpitts begins by explaining that the first half of tonight's show will see him recount the incident. Sadly, though, his talents as a storyteller fail to match his fabled skill behind a drum kit, and he doesn't really do much more than gesture ineffectually at the profound impact that the experience has had on him.

In the second half, however, Colpitts lets his hands and arms do the talking, accomplishing feats with sticks and skins that mere mortals could barely dream of. It's a virtuoso exhibition of his inventive, expressive, nimble style, and the wide repertoire of drum faces underlines how completely he loses himself in the creation and sustenance of rhythm.

Nevertheless, as a founder member of Oneida and someone for whom collaboration appears to come naturally (the most recent Man Forever LP Play What You Want boasted a real ensemble cast), Colpitts does arguably work best as part of a team - even when, as is often the case, he's clearly the most valuable player.

(An edited version of this review appeared on the Buzz website.)

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