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Nawashi Murakawa
Resistance Gallery, London
Sunday November 25 2012


Well, this is certainly a bit different from your usual London gig. It's certainly different from Psydoll's previous London gig. And it's a lot more Psydoll, too.

Instead of a straight-up rock gig bulked out by bands that go "Huuurrrgghh!", which was pretty much the modus operandi last time, tonight we're in an avant-garde art studio for an evening of high concepts and cups of tea. There's Psydoll-art on the walls, and yes, tea and cakes are available, via waitresses dressed in carnival glad rags.

One day, all gigs will be this civilized. And we haven't even started on the rope bondage yet.

So let's start on the rope bodage. Instead of support bands making their surly racket, we have an array of performances to bemuse and delight us in the pre-Psydoll period. A girl in an Alice in Wonderland-ish dress is meticulously wrapped in rope by a bearded bloke who attends her with the solicitous manner of a family doctor.

She's winched into the air and hangs suspended in a curiously formal pose, like a still shot from a ballet movie.

And, talking of ballet, here comes some of the real stuff, courtesy of Martini, lead singer of Maleficent (who aren't playing tonight, but would have fitted in rather well, I reckon).

She executes attitudes and arabesques across the floor...before being tied up by a Japanese schoolgirl, whose benevolent calm seems downright surreal as she works the knots.

Now it's Nawashi Murakawa's turn as an itinerant peddlar, whose customer graciously permits him to tie her up in leiu of a more conventional payment.

He's deferential and reserved, moving with a stylised grace that practically counts as choreography, while his customer, steadily vanishing into an ever-more complex rope-web, exudes a glacial calm that lets us know who's really on top of the situation. It's a compelling spectacle, and definitely puts tonight's show some way beyond the usual landscape of rock 'n' roll.

Nawashi MurakawaPsydoll, of course, are also some way beyond the usual landscape of rock 'n' roll.

Although Psydoll - somewhat counter-intuitively, perhaps - seem to see themselves as a rock band, in fact they're a deliciously otherworldy pop-punk-manga creation, as fizzy as Panda Pops and as outré an art experience as you can have outside a gallery.

Which, of course, makes it all the more appropriate that tonight we're in a gallery. This kind of milieu is Psydoll's natural home.

The band riff it up like sci-fi rock gods, guitar skidding across the drum-program clatter, with guitarist Ucchi attracting much devotion from a posse of guitar hero fans down the front. Some of them even reach out to touch his fretboard, like devotees in the presence of a guru.

But alongside the band's full-tilt techno-rock noize, there's that peculiar Psydoll-esque pop sensibility, those lilting melodies that haul the songs into the sunlit uplands of pop, even as the guitar digs down into the dark.

Nekoi, on vocals and minimalist keyboard, fronts the hurtling racket with engaging charm. "Hero' has its max-heaviosity riff well to the fore, 'Ghosts' is a wall of textured sound, like My Bloody Valentine if you dropped them in the middle of Harajuku and told them to get on with it.

It's an artful brew of out-there sound and vision, soaked up with glee by the Resistance Galllery audience of avant-rockers and art-heads. And yes, I suppose, if you suspend disbelief and squint a bit, Psydoll are something like a rock band - just not from this part of the landscape. Or, indeed, from this end of the universe.


Psydoll: Website | Facebook
Nawashi Murakawa: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find Psydoll by name here.

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