COUCH! THAT SMARTS!

BEN WILLMOTT grabs his tin helmet and peers over the parapet

Sofa Surfers

London Camden Dingwalls

It’s official, Vienna is the new Paris. Which, of course, was the new Detroit. Last year. Keep up! This dance music malarkey moves in speedy and mysterious ways. No wonder major label Geffen’s employees are cowering, flustered and confused at the bar. Because, pretty much without warning, their bosses have decided that wobbly dub techno performed by pale young Austrians will keep them in corporate dinners this year. And, despite much cramming of the Bluffer’s Guide To Viennese Techno () Vibes, 1996), they are still having trouble telling their Patrick Pulsingers from their Kruder & Dorfmeisters.

As if Geffen signings Sofa Surfers give a shit. Ambling onstage one by one, they show roughly the same concern for maintaining icy techno cool as your mum taking you shopping for school uniform. Bassist Wolfgang Frisch is soon hopping about like he just stubbed his toe and fellow Wolfgang (Herr Schlogl, to be precise) is singing through something from a balloon-making kit for acidheads. And, it has to be said, quite an excruciating sight it makes too, as the subtleties of their ‘Transmit’ album are crushed beneath muddy mixing and the industry’s notorious reluctance to ‘give’ anything ‘up’ other than the right to buy a round.

Then, just before Geffen plc decide to cast themselves wholesale into Camden Lock in utter despondency, things begin to gel. ‘Internacional’ perks up the room like a free drugs buffet. Then ‘The Plan’ strides in like the lost soundtrack to a late-night German detective show. Beezer! Whether their employers’ mortgages are safe is another matter, but tonight the Sofa Surfers are waving, not frowning. The slack attack starts here.

Ben Willmott