Are you hip enough for I Ching?
If there was ever a band epitomising the London art school music scene, I Ching would be it. Performing on Monday night 26th March, in Islington’s The Lexington, they appeared to be a magnet for all skinny jean wearing twenty-something hipsters that you might have seen rolling a cigarette on a street bench in Shoreditch, Camden, or anywhere that’s within a mile’s vicinity of an art college.
When I walked through the doors of the venue to come face to face with a scruffy foursome whose attire consisted of oversized hoodies, granddad style buttoned shirts and one giant baseball cap (worn ironically, of course), I’m sorry to say I let my prejudices get to me.
It was an interesting night, to say the least. The band played six tracks, including Drive and It’s Me. Despite their annoyingly apathetic bravado, it didn’t take long to realise we were listening to something special. With a combination of harmonic vocals and an 80s pop synthesiser, the band produced a soothing and hypnotic sound, evoking an atmosphere akin to a new age meditation centre. However, every so often this ambiance would be disrupted with screeching microphone reverberations and wacky keyboard effects. These interferences prevented the crowd from taking the band’s sound for granted. Determined to take the crowd on a weird and wonderful journey, I Ching made sure we were aware of what was going on at every turn.
In recent interviews they’ve described their sound as an infusion of pop, the avant-garde, 60s psyche and Turkish garage. Last night, it instantly struck a chord with the experimental melodies of post-punk bands Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. An experimented ear could also have detected allusions to bands as diverse as The Happy Mondays, Pet Shop Boys and Kraftwerk.
I Ching’s sound has a visual and textured quality; it is no surprise that two out of four of the band’s members, Rollo Smallcombe and Kevin Emre, previously studied at art school. Despite their understated stage presence, we will certainly be waiting for the band to produce films accompanying their music. It’s a telling situation when an unusually short performance can open up a whole range of possibilities in the mind of a former sceptic (like me).
For more information on upcoming gigs and releases click here.
Listen to I Ching on SoundCloud here.