Live review: Delphic/Egyptian Hip Hop

Cargo, London, Monday, February 22

Richard Johnson
Pic: Richard Johnson
Just as Ashley Cole is probably texting to an undercover News Of The World reporter (disguised as an underwear model) as we speak, it’s all about the package. You might expect Egyptian Hip Hop to be a new Pharoahe Monch or Cleopatra, but they’re one of those bands who cunningly sound nothing like their name suggests. There’s a Sphynxian sway to them but it’s dancing behind seven veils of proto-indie slackergoth noise; the sound of The Cure[a/] collapsing on to [a]Pavement.

Now Delphic, they know about presenting full packages. Tonight, retro-modernist aesthetic merges with techtronic power punch as explosively as The Gatekeeper shagging The Keymaster (Ghostbusters reference, ask your dad – ’80s Film Ed). Swathed in blue lights – it is, after all, Monday – they take to a stage slanted with the neon undercar tubes nicked off a Gary Numan tourbus from 1982 and unleash Godzillectro, a rampaging beat beast chewing up massive chunks of granite rock guitar. This is ‘Clarion Call’ and it gives way to the computerised vowel-stutter of ‘Doubt’, the poppiest homage to their Mancunian dance heritage on debut album ‘Acolyte’, a title that all but accedes to their cultural debt to New Order and Underworld.

Teeth have been gnashed over Delphic’s ability to meld the pop edge of the former with the hardcore techno thump of the latter, but tonight they mingle seamlessly. ‘Doubt’ drifts away into a sinister trance anthem before unravelling the sort of melodic electro coda guaranteed to get Bernard Sumner’s moobs jiggling. ‘This Momentary' descends deep into the hard house jungle for several minutes, then just when you think you’re lost in this impenetrable undergrowth of beaty noise,
a clearing appears ahead where the ecstatic clatterpop of ‘Counterpoint’ is raving with the devil in the pale moonlight.

By the time the pounding aciiiid pump of encore ‘Acolyte’ transcends all ‘Technique’ comparisons – and the ’80s revival in general – there’s no talk of dance/rock crossovers here. Just a bunch of blissed’n’blitzed retro-ravers reaching for their imaginary whistles.

Mark Beaumont

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