Republica : London Camden Dingwalls
A serious art-rock statement...
We all know about Les Dawson, how he could actually play the piano really well and was just pretending to be crap to raise a chuckle. Obviously Karamasov guitarist Johannes Von-Weizsacker is an aficionado. Despite his classical training, he makes like Television’s Tom Verlaine with arthritis, squeezing out all manner of atonal squawks from his six-string. Crucially, however, no-one is laughing.
This is a serious art-rock statement. What sound like bum notes are in fact skilfully manipulated emissions from a post-apocalyptic electrical storm which only Karamasov can hear. Possibly. So that’s why ‘Defibrillator’ screeches and squeals like the Magic Band locked in a cutlery drawer. And why ‘Moon Unit’ skitters by in a squall of 12/8 time signatures and [I]Tomorrow’s World[/I] sound effects. These songs don’t end, so much as burn up.
It’s an ice-cool, fuck-you demeanour that’s needed to bring credibility to such seemingly reckless discordancy. But the four members of Karamasov just appear scared and uncomfortable, as if the audience shouldn’t really have to listen to this self-indulgent racket, but they can’t muster the courage to apologise.
When the static buzz of final song ‘Reaction Man’ splutters to an end, there’s an almost palpable sense of relief. Maybe if they looked like the musical wing of the Baader-Meinhof their ‘difficult’ post-krautrock instrumentals might make more sense.
Then again, maybe they should just throw in some mother-in-law gags. After all, it worked for Les.