What began as a nonchalant Wednesday night ended with full-force rhythm-making, booty-shaking domination by King Ayisoba over by a small roundabout in Oslo, the Crossroads Club. The initial attendance lacked, with few shyly tucked on the sides of the venue surround. Zea, aka Arnold de Boer from The Ex kicked off around 9:30, warming up the stage as he ratt-at-tatted tunes over a beatbox and improvised sampling. Norwegian politeness still had a hold on the place, made apparent at his one tune, “It’s Quiet” where in no other place then Norway, could you hear a pin drop from the crowd. Not even a murmur. He spoke/sang in his plaintive manner, “It’s quiet. It’s quiet. No wind no trees no water. It’s quiet. It’s quiet. No talk not anything like it.”
Arguably, the best tracks were when he was not quiet. Quirky, angular (as to be expected from an Ex member), he got heads nodding at his wild, electronic heaps of rhythm. Others still seemed to wake up when he announced a Leadbelly cover “Bourgeois Blues”. Though this particular writer felt he slightly butchered the soulful original (to be fair, the Anglo dry take could very well been the point of the adaptation)– members cheered as he invited King Ayisoba on stage, and got a first glimpse at the King’s powerful holler.
Next up, King Ayisoba. Standing alone, he beckoned the crowd, “Are you ready?” “YES!” “Are you happy?” “Yes!” And the night ensued. One of my main observations were the instruments on stage. We knew eventually a band would come up, but it was amazing the sounds produced from what looked like a wooden ball with goat skin stretched over it, and two strings attached. His plectrum was like a massive triangular piece of bark, and he kept paying those two strings, up-and-down getting an incredible precision and effect. I loved that in place of a traditional “bass drum” they had one member who just stomped on the floor, or rather, jumped as high as he could, then plodded the floor with the weight of his entire body for the roaring thump.
By the time the band had joined, most of the crowd had got up on their feet. What looked like local Africans who’d heard about the gig were first ones to command the dance floor. Over the entirety of the first hour, there seemed like no more then three songs were played, improvised upon, and repeated. However, the hypnotic beat kept the crowd in a groove, with occasional wafts of herbal courage and cologne. King Ayisoba’s vocal prowess came through as he often switched between two personas– with a bold, deep rumble and an almost Satanic, ear-splitting shriek that’d shake it all up.
All in all, a great night and the biggest gathering of Bad Sounds writers/photographers to date. Other highlights included when the band took a “break” and one member returned to do a few solo songs. Powerful melodies from their native land Ghana, the crowd remained captivated to the end, including a ladies-pleaser about, “Women can do everything a man can, and more.” Those who didn’t stay through the two-hour entirety merely withered home out of exhaustion from all the smiles and dancing.
Thanks to Karim Mansour and The Crossroads Club.