01 Apr Tru to its word
Koko Camden is a venue that takes me back in time, so it was the perfect place for a Tru Thoughts night, put together by Soundcrash, last weekend. Those red and golden walls refracted the sounds of strings and soulful voices, and made the atmosphere really cozy and sexy, assisted in no small part by all the friendly people in the place.
The night started with Anchorsong from Tokyo. He perform music like I’ve never seen before, using a MIDI controller and backed by a string quartet and that’s it. Recently signed to the label, he has previously supported Bonobo, DJ Krush and Daedalus, and played in venues like the Southbank Centre and the Roundhouse to name but a few. With a huge online following, all the Japanese fans were right there, at the front of the stage, to show their support. His emotive sound is powerful, blending deep electronica flourishes with hip-hop beats, that contrast with the tremulous melodies vibrating off the strings. His debut album, Chapters, is due next week.
By the time Belleruche appeared on stage, the dance floor was already pretty packed. The first time I saw the band was in a small festival tent a few years ago and they already had a devoted following. That was right after their second album, ‘The Express’, and I immediately fell in love with Katrin’s style, not to mention DJ Modest’s deft touches to the mix.
Their latest album ‘270 Stories’ has been a great success, with a sound that brought the band to brand new audiences, while still retaining their individual identity. On YouTube, the ‘Clockwatching’ video directed by Jamie Roberts has notched up some 250,000 views and the band seems to be on one permanent world tour. But every time I see them live, there is the same passion and enjoyment I saw that first time in the festival tent.
However good Belleruche were, the highlight of the night for me was always going to be theHidden Orchestra, a band I only discovered recently. With a sound that is somewhere between Bonobo, who they have performed with, and the expansive sound of the Cinematic Orchestra, ‘Night Walks’, their debut album, is a spectacular offering.
On stage, with two drummers playing in perfect synchronicity, and most of the other musicians playing at least a couple of instruments, the Hidden Orchestra is a sight to behold. And I haven’t even mentioned the jaw-dropping cello and violin’s designed by Starfish. Their spellbinding performance was epitomized for me during one particular moment when, opening my eyes in the middle of the song ‘Wondering’, the people stood around me all had closed eyes and smiles on their faces while the band on stage seemed to play on in a sort of trance.
And the night wasn’t finished there… not even close. To my surprise, the legend Omar jumps on stage next to seduce the crowd with three slices of classic British soul. The man has been around and recorded with the likes of Erykah Badu, Angie Stone and Stevie Wonder to name just a few and always brings a touch of class to the stage whenever he grabs the mic. He’s just one of the latest signing to Tru Thoughts, showing that the label is become a real powerhouse in the independent arena.
What I love about independent labels is that they will only survive if they are innovative but also if they have an identity of sound, always working to help their artists grow and develop. That’s how I see Tru Thoughts, a big family with artists collaborating amongst themselves, making original high quality music for our total pleasure.