Review: Azari and III @ The Arches

Competition for Glasgow’s clubbing elite was fierce on 12th November with Sub Club and The Arches both vying for the loyal student crowd. Their respective weapons were: LoFi magnate of the moment Julio Bashmore in the Jamaica Street basement and House-revivalists, Azari & III, around the corner in the Victorian, vaulted chambers of Scotland’s “best late night venue”, The Arches (SLTN Awards). No matter where allegiances lay last weekend one thing was clear – House is back, and it’s here to stay.

Words and Photos by Marcus Jack

On just after half 11, Azari & III were a man down. Fritz was missing. A blurry explanation suggested a lost voice – no doubt a result of extensive touring and the repeated exercise of demanding bass vocals. Their slot was a hybrid, somewhere between gig headliner and club night marathon opener – Death Disco was to follow featuring L-Vis 1990 and Visions of Trees. Opening strong with instrumental track ‘Manhooker’, electroclash Caesars Dinamo Azari and Alixander III showcase their talents without vocal presence. Azari on drum machine, Alixander over mixing console, both consult their synths regularly. The result is an excitingly sinister beat, an ultra-low frequency wall of dark house that keeps building in anticipation of theatre.

Theatre arrives when Cedric (a.k.a. Starving Yet Full) floats onto centre stage, androgyny in a black leather jacket, translucent chiffon shirt, brogues and a fur hat. Mixing straight into the irrefutable banger ‘Hungry for the Power’ Cedric shines against the pared back set and broody lighting. His voice is flawless, referencing New Wave behemoth Grace Jones and easily rivalling contemporaries like Hercules & Love Affair. The crowd lights up recognising the thumping bass and foreseeing the voodoo lyrics which berate Western greed: ‘I’m hungry for the power/Hour after hour/Crazy for your love/But love is not enough’. Fritz’ deep spoken vocals are missed – but the band’s dynamic and impressive energy more than make up for it.

Fully engaged with the club vibe, each record is seamlessly mixed into the next. Despite a plague of technical difficulties the band never loses professionalism – an ethic also indicated by their numerous high profile patrons: Annie Mac, Friendly Fires and Boys Noize. The group genuinely appreciate their success, and it shows.  The energy never falters.

 

 

 

   ‘Manic’ is the surprising pièce de résistance of the set. It has a hook which surpasses comprehension*, something in the lyrics, in the attitude of the record that becomes contagious. The thumping resonance of the track gets the crowd climaxing, everyone dancing introspectively in a fit of twists and hands. Decidedly dark the sound only goes deeper, from ‘Reckless (With Your Love)’ mixed through the rest of their eponymous debut album to the concluding and aptly labelled ‘Into the Night’.

* See below – It has to be heard.

Cedric is fascinating, stripping and writhing in perfect time he embodies the sound completely, an exotic Peaches, it’s hard not to be mesmerised. Despite this, producers are never lost; Azari sparks up on stage with a sense of James Dean cool, and Alixander responds to Cedric, twisting around mic stands and grinding against the colossal PA system. Responding to a new tradition of cold electronic music – namely the new populist brand of schizophrenic, imported “dubstep” – Azari & III are confidently part of an old movement revitalised, with a proud history and consciousness. House is back and stronger than ever.

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