God Knows Where I Am From: Berserk! + InterStatic Live at XOYO – EFG London Jazz Festival

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Within the EFG London Jazz Festival 2013, funky Hoxton basement venue XOYO played host to a mind-blowing live show of the Italian jazz-prog ensemble Berserk! created by guitarist, composer and arranger Lorenzo Feliciati together with master vocalist/mutli-instrumentalist Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari (aka LEF) and guest Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset. Both Berserk! plus its supporting Nordic triumvirate, InterStatic (both bands on RareNoiseRecords), with pianist, organist and composer Roy Powell, guitarist Jacob Young and drummer Jarle Vespestad, creating psychedelic, transcendent moments as well as smooth breaks between stylistic genres.

With an inviting smell of incense wafting around the club helping to create an intoxicating psychedelic atmosphere, InterStatic set about seducing listeners with their spacey magical sounds. Unusually for a frontman and bandleader, Powell sat in front of a Hammond organ, rendering 1970s Pink Floyd influenced sounds to be mixed with solid tunes from guitar backed by driving drums. In songs like ‘Watermusic’ or ‘Anthem’, jazz, rock, shoegaze and psychedelica mingled so seamlessly that the breaks were barely noticeable. After taking the audience to many different musical spheres, the Hammond player departed with a sincere: “God bless you.”

InterStatic may have journeyed into inter-stellar space with Powell introducing himself mysteriously as “only God knows where I am from,” but Berserk! also evoked the sense that we as human beings are part of the wider universe via their astonishingly transcendent audiovisual performance. Fornasari mingled his majestic playing of a seraphine (an early keyed wind instrument, which makes its sound via air being blown across metallic reeds), with his extraordinary vocal range. The talented composer Feliciati created an amazing mix of musical styles, ranging from the classical ‘Ave Maria’, 1920s swing/jazz music to 1980s electronica, and snatches of popular tunes by the likes of Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, or Joy Division, evoking strong memories from this listener’s childhood. In this well-conceived performance, the visceral atmosphere was also heightened by the use of movie effects and field recordings from a Spaghetti Western train whistling or an iPhone ringing. Not only transcendent moods were awakened but also background screenings of a lady eating a strawberry cake with her bare fingers or the beautiful green scenery of a pathway with trees behind it, contributed to make their inter-media manifesto indeed both brilliant and berserk!

– Monika Demmler (story and photos)