Live review: Delphic/Egyptian Hip Hop

Cargo, London, Monday, February 22

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Just as Ashley Cole is probably texting to an undercover [i]News Of The World[/i] reporter (disguised as an underwear model) as we speak, it’s all about the package. You might expect [a]Egyptian Hip Hop[/a] 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 [a]The Cure[a/] collapsing on to [a]Pavement[/a].

Now [a]Delphic[/a], they know about presenting full packages. Tonight, retro-modernist aesthetic merges with techtronic power punch as explosively as The Gatekeeper shagging The Keymaster ([i]Ghostbusters[/i] 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 [a]Gary Numan[/a] tourbus from 1982 and unleash Godzillectro, a rampaging beat beast chewing up massive chunks of granite rock guitar. This is [b]‘Clarion Call’[/b] 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 [a]New Order[/a] and [a]Underworld[/a].

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. [b]‘Doubt’[/b] drifts away into a sinister trance anthem before unravelling the sort of melodic electro coda guaranteed to get Bernard Sumner’s moobs jiggling. [b]‘This Momentary'[/b] 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 [b]‘Counterpoint’[/b] 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.

[b]Mark Beaumont[/b]

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