London King’s Cross Scala

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As they're named after the Chinese communist revolution's founder, you figure they'll probably be perfect for this creative left-wing...

In a venue so hot that you fear your ears will melt, promoters Kentra are staging another of their club-cum-multi-media happenings. Experimental movies, [a]Four Tet[/a]’s Kieran Hebden DJing – then it’s the turn of unsigned ten-piece, Mao. As they’re named after the Chinese communist revolution’s founder, you figure they’ll probably be perfect for this creative left-wing.

Except, as they emerge with a modicum of technology and a mass of brass and string instruments, you’re less certain. After all, the Pavlovian response to such a mix of jazz, classical and exacting drum’n’bass is to bolt for the door.

But whereas there’s often an emotional black hole beneath these endeavours, this disparate gang of women in spangly dresses and blokes in T-shirts load sentiment throughout the avant-grunge. Underpinned by belching double bass, tracks like ‘Shortwave’ resemble early Red Snapper. Art Ensemble Of Chicago and Sun Ra are other obvious comparisons, yet unlike Gomez doing the Delta swamp blues, there’s nothing disingenuous about this update.

Though there’s no sign of him, Campag Velocet‘s Pete Voss has apparently collaborated with Mao. Indeed, they’ll need guest singers/ poets/rappers/ranters to hold the interest of those who aren’t certified jazz-cats. For now, though, as the funky onslaught accelerates as fast as the Messerschmitts on the screens above, satisfyingly, it’s not just the temperature which has you believing your ears will melt.