- 14 Jan 11
RANT's ears are still ringing from an extraordinary tour de force of percussive power...
The first warp-spasm seized Cúchulainn, and made him into a monstrous thing, hideous and shapeless, unheard of. His shanks and his joints, every knuckle and angle and organ from head to foot, shook like a tree in the flood or a reed in the stream. His body made a furious twist inside his skin, so that his feet and shins switched to the rear and his heels and calves switched to the front... The hair of his head twisted like the tange of a red thornbush stuck in a gap; if a royal apple tree with all its kingly fruit were shaken above him, scarce an apple would reach the ground but each would be spiked on a bristle of his hair as it stood up on his scalp with rage.”
- The Táin, translation Thomas Kinsella
Just before Christmas your correspondent was invited to read from Dylan Thomas's 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' at the Vocare Choir's Yuletide concert in the Talbot Hotel in Wexford. The event was a sell out and proved just the tonic for Siberian weather, financial embarrassment and frozen water pipes. Other guests included Nick Bailey and his band of turbo drummers. Nick runs the Extreme Rhythm ensemble, described in the bio as: “Europe's leading high impact percussion ensemble, consisting of 12 top class percussionists from various musical and theatrical backgrounds (from symphony orchestra to jazz and rock)... demonstrating their art through sheer power, pure adrenaline, stunning choreography and mesmerising rhythms. An Extreme Rhythm performance is a spectacular display of powerful drumming, brilliant choreography, colourful costumes and dramatic lighting effects, using rhythms and instruments from all over the world.”
They're not kidding.
As I write this my ears are still ringing from the ensemble's performance at the Wexford Opera House on January 8. Entitled Primal, it was quite the extravaganza. Picture, if you will, a twenty-four-legged drum squad who look like they'd be just as comfortable at some extreme sports or martial arts expo, whaling the tar out of a battery of percussion instruments, including bongos, congas, gongs and massive Japanese vertical drums used for the demarcation of tribal territories. Envision, if you will, the part of 'In the Name of the Father' where the lambegs and marching snares go apeshit – extended into a two hour show. The performance veers from military brutalism to trad dance to Zen garden windchimes. My favourite parts were the full-on Armageddon-is-in-effect sections that sounded like Public Enemy approximating Cuchulainn's warp spasm, choreographed by Kurosawa.
Nothing like a declaration of war to kick off the new year.