To The Forge in Camden last night to see Troyka, part of the London Jazz Festival, described by Time Out as, ‘King Crimson for the iPod generation’, a tag I imagine the band feel a little uncomfortable about. The three-piece look very young, especially the drummer, but they play with considerable skill and imagination. The prog rock comparisons are clear from the tricksy, constantly shifting time signatures and spinning-on-the-heel changes of mood and tempo.
There are definite echoes of Robert Fripp’s accelerated arpeggios in some of Chris Montague’s constantly inventive guitar playing but the guitarists he cites as influences - Wayne Krantz and Marc Ducret - I’m not familiar with; I heard Marc Ducret on the radio recently, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard Krantz. Kit Downes provides an unusual backing on organ, only rarely soloing, on occasions Mike Ratledge seems to stand at his shoulder. It got ‘rockier’ as the evening progressed and they did a cover of Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box; I’d go to see them again. A waiter (the manager?) said to me afterwards that the usual gigs there are not as 'hardcore', more supper jazz - give me the hardcore.
Often grouped together with the Portico Quartet and Troyka by critics, Polar Bear played at Westminster Reference Library last Saturday and I got to see their first set before having to get the train home – the second set was a collaboration with a rapper. Still interesting stuff, although I prefer seeing them live to listening to their records, there are long improvised sections where they can get pretty ‘far out’.
More music next week: Gilad Atzmon in Hastings on Monday and The Fall in Bexhill on Wednesday.
Author of Subterranean City, Beneath the Streets of London, London's Coffee Houses, Decadent London, The Folklore of London, Subterranean City (Revised and Expanded Edition), Netherwood, Last Resort of Aleister Crowley, Lord of Strange Deaths, the Fiendish World of Sax Rohmer; Secret Tunnels in England, Folklore and Fact