Owiny Sigoma Band + Populous @ Archspace Fri 16th

The London arches has been transformed from an edgy, alternative space to the site of proliferate venues, cafes and restaurants. However, the atmosphere at Archspace, a distinctive rail arch venue in a sweet promenade just off the canal, makes up for that tenfold. They have managed to maintain a crisp sound with their top spec Martin Audio PA system, despite the brick tunnel. It’s a very intimate place in which you can make your way right to the front and engross yourself in the music or take a pew to the rear and relax whilst still being involved. A great space for a gig like this.

The Italian producer Populous, who recently released his new album Azulejos, kicked off the night with a raucous set. Populous provided a high energy set of Cuban/South American style beats pristinely delivered to the gathering crowd. The drums were always crisp and punchy with a back drop of carnival ululations and chants. Witnessing a DJ use his skills in a less orthodox style of dance music was a refreshing experience, although it would have been nice if he changed up the drum pattern a little.

After a short break Owiny Sigoma came to the stage. Unbeknownst to me was that this was technically Owiny Sigoma Soundsystem, not Owiny Sigoma Band, which meant that the Kenyan musicians Joseph Nyamungu and Charles Owoke were not present. The rest of the group, their London based synth-y counterparts, covered for the missing members through samplers to create their distinctive afrobeat fusion of London/Luo. Throughout the gig they delved into some exciting 6/8 drumming pieces and roamed around some sparkly guitar-led rumba style songs. Surprisingly the set was punctuated intermittently with moments that called to mind spacey indie-pop, but maybe that was just me. The music itself was enjoyable but occasionally lacked the energy that would have been brought by their live instrumentalists, and only occasionally did they manage to capture that driving force and syncopation I was expecting. Owiny Sigoma’s sound is very joyful and despite what seemed like some slight edgy nervousness towards the start they got into the zone as their set progressed, bringing most of the crowd with them as the rhythmically complex passages crescendoed into more classic funked up sections.

By Nick Hann, BA Global Popular Music

Post Author: SOAS Spirit

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