London Camden Monarch

Perhaps, as the band are Australian, the packs are like marsupial pouches...

Each member of [a]Gerling[/a] wears a white shirt and a bulging black backpack. Because they are so prominent, getting in the way of the trio’s continual instrument-swapping activity, one cannot help but speculate what the backpacks contain. Perhaps, as the band are Australian, the packs are like marsupial pouches, and contain baby Gerlings. Unlikely? Yes, but [a]Gerling[/a] clearly inhabit a world where the natural laws (of behaviour, bugle-playing, and whether or not you can stick a drum’n’bass passage in the middle of song that otherwise sounds exactly like Pavement) have no bearing. [a]Gerling[/a], quite simply, are insane.

Gerling have no bass player. The three members traverse the stage as if caught in a revolving door between two guitars, two keyboards, turntable and drums. Sometimes they wear monkey masks and furry, pointed hats. The Canadian member, Burke Reid, strikes poses like a giant robot and fixes the crowd with a deranged, twitchy stare. They say things like, “This one’s for the ladies!” and then play a song called ‘Meet You @ Karate’ which sounds like Seafood. Their debut album features a song called ‘A Student Eating Sushi With A Chimp On A Glass Island’, which they do not play. They do, however, play ‘I Heard An Echo Of A Cobra’s Bite’, during which Burke and fellow Gerling Darren Cross do nothing but jump up and down in Halloween masks to a drum machine.

So, as entertainment, [a]Gerling[/a] are genius. But is the music any good? Mostly, yes. The ambient Mogwai-meets-Stereolab ‘Enter Spacecapsule’ is particularly clever, as is the angular, mewling guitar instrumental [I]tour de force[/I] ‘Bachelor Pad’ (here, think early Sonic Youth on lithium). Of course, such an ambitious collision of musical styles is bound to falter occasionally, and it does ‘Suburban Jungle Sleeping Bag’ combines jazz, breakbeats and rapping, terribly. Still, most of their many ideas are executed with rare skill. At one point Darren tells a story about being mistaken for Ant from ‘and Dec’ fame. “We are not,” he scowls, “a joke band.” Indeed not. They are the Antipodean Man Or Astro-Man? Only better.