London King’s Cross Scala

Our rating:

It's the difference between lunacy and genius. And [a]Ken Ishii[/a] and [a]Luke Vibert[/a] do a techno bolero on the thin line that separates them...

It’s the difference between lunacy and genius. And [a]Ken Ishii[/a] and [a]Luke Vibert[/a] do a techno bolero on the thin line that separates them. But, crucially, it’s Ishii who tonight pushes to the extremes of both, takes violent musical risks, and exits a hero, while the typically unreliable Vibert loses his way.

The latter had an idea that must’ve sounded great down – the pub: why not combine – his own madcap beat-scapes – with the shimmering chords of pedal-steel-guitarist-for-hire and one-time Verve accomplice BJ Cole? Their forthcoming collaborative album, ‘Stop The Panic’, reveals that ultimately this exotic sonic marriage is a pretty sickly affair, as kitsch Hawaiian whines jostle for space amidst flippant electro squelching. Tonight, at least, Vibert concentrates on building some exhilarating house rhythms, and Cole keeps the beach party reverb at a minimum, but the whiff of cheese is never too far away.

And indeed, Luke‘s efforts begin to seem ever more tepid and tame once Tokyo techno renegade [a]Ken Ishii[/a] gets going. Though he’s aided by a skilled percussionist, the focus here is really the man in the white pyjamas, who never breaks into a sweat while coolly teasing his technology, yet produces a glorious, compulsive shockwave of cracked breaks and thunderous FX. Far more punishing live than on his recent record, ‘Sleeping Madness’, Ishii nonetheless knows that behind the beat there must be da funk. Hence he gives us, for example, a heady dose of the album’s masterful deep house title track to ignite our souls, and then launches into a hardcore blitzkrieg.

He’s saved the night from twanging electronica, then. But Luke should take heart: right now, there’s few people who could go up against [a]Ken Ishii[/a] and emerge triumphant.