Published on The Fly online, September 2011
Pinkunoizu/ Diagrams/ Symphony Of The Magnetic North
Madame JoJo’s, London
“It’s our first show, so we’d appreciate some help down here,” mumbles a scared-looking Hannah Peel of Symphony Of The Magnetic North to a largely-empty floor. With Simon Tong, veteran of The Verve and The Good, The Bad & The Queen on guitar, the openers at this showcase for indie label Full Time Hobby aren’t entirely inexperienced. Lead singer (and longstanding Tong collaborator) Erland Cooper overdoes the earnestness with his eyes-closed folk keening, but new addition Peel enlivens an occasionally slow set with her breathy vocals and, on a couple of numbers, some lovely violin.
Diagrams, the new band of Tunng founder Sam Genders, don’t need to plead for an audience. With a packed crowd in front of the stage and eight people crammed on it, Madame JoJo’s resembles a can of sardines. “It’s nice to be able to play a venue this size, so I can really hear what these guys are doing for a change,” says Genders – and it’s clear the band are having great fun jamming together, with brass and clarinet adding colour to the tight, funky guitar and synth. And yet, it’s third number ‘Woking’, consisting almost entirely of Genders’ looped vocals, that sticks most in the memory.
If Diagrams excel at tight, clever playing, however, it’s Norway’s Pinkunoizu who’ve perfected the art of combining close collaboration with an expansive, exploratory sound. Though employing a relatively traditional line-up of instruments, they create consistently fascinating, delicate concoctions throughout their 40-minute set. Jaleh Negari’s gentle but insistent drumming combines with room-shaking bass and Andreas Pallisgaard’s chiming Daniel Lanois guitar to make a rich, swirling, hypnotic groove, and Nils Gröndahl’s squealing electronic violin adds an element of chaotic catharsis. The undisputed highlight of a most enjoyable evening; if only all those who came for Diagrams had stuck around to see it.