Words fail me. The guitarist from Schizophonic has a beard about two feet long, two feet wide and, for all I know, two feet deep. It is a startling sight, unnecessary and deliberately provocative. For his – o ho ho – cheek, and for the fact that he hogs the centre stage looking prominent and smug whilst his colleagues skulk behind their keyboards and turntable, in my head he’s come to be accountable for all the wrongdoings of his group.
This is Schizophonic from Bangalore, by the way, not the Schizophonics from Jacksonville who show up first when you search for the name on the internet. That threw me off for a while, a blurb talking of “slamming beats and thought-provoking lyrics” when these heroes of the revolution have barely got it together enough to play in time, let alone “slam” any “beats”. And they don’t sing. From their own ad, then, “…deep, dark dub delays and hip-hop turn-tablism to jazz piano and blues guitar licks, all human-generated sound is fed into an electronic hive-mind that behaves intuitively”, i.e., the view from up here in my arse is glorious and won’t you pay to watch.
The trouble with bands from small scenes is, they either turn themselves into bland crowd-pleasers in a stab at wider popularity, or they accept their fate, viz. that nobody’ll ever listen to them anyway, so why not just go roundly to hell. Shizophonic have worked this one out. They don’t stand a chance of cracking a global market and they’re not going to risk life and reputation trying. In the meantime, enough people are stoned enough and clueless enough to have a vast con-job pulled on them right here. Et voila. So, for our sins, we had forty minutes – or was it shorter? it’s impossible to tell – of wandering guitar bits over e-drums and piano solos, existing beyond Beefheart’s worst excesses, beyond even the huge and desolate realm of free-jazz, just three people doing the musical equivalent of stumbling about and bumping into each other looking ecstatic all the while. A more prim reviewer would call it “experimental/electronic”; I will put it on record that I show more restraint and dignity when I wank.
Schizophonic’s music sounds like the guy’s beard looks. It sprawls in all directions for no better reason than it can and has been allowed to, and that nobody has called his bluff . It is otherwordly and it seems to be the result of a lot of self-contented stroking, and what it really needs is for one single courageous man to rush the stage and lob it off with a pair of shears, ending the madness once and for all.
I found this “hive-mind” flinging its wreckage from under three giant five-foot dragonflies with tea-strainer eyes, at an audience of stoned goofus misfits and at least one life-size papier-mâché doll, all of which was more than it deserved.