Slowly Rolling Camera take trip hop to Rich Mix

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The melding of musician and machine at Shoreditch’s unpretentious arts venue, Rich Mix, which last night played host to Slowly Rolling Camera supported by Future Dub Orchestra, represents the creative détente which seems to have been reached between the dinner jazz your parents like, and the electronica that the youth of today appreciates.

Produced from Coach House Studios in Bristol, which gave rise to bands such as Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead, Future Dub Orchestra sound like what it says on the tin. The creative leader of the band stands behind a desk of wires and equipment playing strings and brass and assorted bleeps and bumps, while a straightforward line up of bass and drums on stage help move the sound from the deep dub of the sound-system through the languid ‘teenth notes of funk – all accompanied by the dark vocals of Michelle Denny which provide a soulful counterpoint to the more frenetic moments of Bristol trip-hop. The philosophy behind this computer-led band is ‘doing it live’. To be truly convincing as a live electronic outfit they should find themselves a drummer – someone in the mould of Jojo Mayer – who is more (drum) machine than man.

With a more accomplished line-up of musicians, Slowly Rolling Camera are like the grown-up version of Future Dub Orchestra; the sound is no less frenetic in the hippier-hoppier moments but more dignified and complex, preferring expansive movements to syncopated breaks, with producer Deri Roberts’ contribution on the computer adding texture rather than providing the rhythm or over-powering the nuance of the upright bass.

There was a tendency for the subtle inflexions of vocalist-lyricist Dionne Bennett’s voice to get lost during her more restrained moments, as sometimes did Mark Lockheart’s improvisation on soprano sax, and the burble of Dave Stapleton’s synth. But perhaps that was merely their finesse at work – eventually the layered ensemble sound and portentous Merry Clayton-esque vocals swell into something complicated and powerful yet restrained and funky. If Slowly Rolling Camera lend themselves to dinner listening it is only because it is unassuming and thoughtful music, the nuance of which is easily overpowered by a rambunctious dub crowd at the bar off to stage right.

The philosophy of the night’s promoter, Soundcrash, is to programme music that often has a jazz sound to it and may encompass soul, world, and even hip hop, but which is always genre-pushing, edgy and exciting. The dinner jazz crowd who like their jazz puréed before consumption might need to put their dentures back in.

– Steve Owen