Oxide & Neutrino : Austin Element

Texas was far too busy working out how the hell you dance to this freaky stuff to get vocal...

Oxide & Neutrino wing into dusty ol’ Austin as the trick card in the pack within a NME showcase weighted heavily in favour of guitar bands. What will South By South-West, America’s foremost underground music convention, make of minimalist cyberbeat UK garage? Especially here, in a state where two-step is a line dancing move and ‘bo!’ is the sound a steer makes when it’s jabbed with a branding iron?

How about ‘darn perplexed’? First surprise for the pair is a burly bouncer checking their ID on the way in. Unfazed, they set up lone decks and a mic, and with Neutrino clutching a bottle of champagne, they confront the more adventurous US observers and British converts with a brave and powerful demonstration of skills. Oxide speed-flips through dub-plates of ravecore bass and sped-up harmonies, while Neutrino makes free with excerpts from tunes like ‘Nuff Of Dem Watch Me’, flinging machine-gun rhymes over the heads of the gently-twitching crowd.

But tonight’s show is hardly an ideal environment for Oxide & Neutrino. A club full of Wu-Tang Clan fans in New York might make sense. But for all Neutrino’s pleas to “[I]Make some noise, Texas![I]”, Texas is far too busy working out how the hell you dance to this freaky stuff to get vocal.

Another swig, and Neutrino’s spraying the room with tense inner-city haikus and pirate radio rhymes, Oxide’s dropping the bad bass and an over-excited member of the British contingent is raising a lighter in recognition of their [a][/a]-sampling ‘No Good 4 Me’. With a final courageous blurt of “[I]So Solid Crew representin’ inside da place![I]”Oxide & Neutrino turn their high-tech space sneakers to the exit sign. The Sound of the British Inner City came to Texas, and it was quick on the draw. But not even a man running after them with an ice-bucketed bottle of champagne can persuade Oxide & Neutrino to linger. Moët don’t chill properly in a Stetson hat.

Roger Morton