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Lautrec deliver up-beat benediction


Review: Jake May

Bark the name Astor Piazolla at most people and they will stare at you like you've gone a bit funny in the head. If, on the other hand, those people happen to be Ed Simpson and Sylvia Demetilla, they will smile at you knowingly, for it was a loop of accordion playing by Mr. Piazolla, dropped by Ed and appreciated by Sylvia, that brought these talents together and in doing so sowed the seeds that would grow to become Lautrec.

Formed in the summer of 2002, Lautrec are fairly new on the scene, but with all the collaborators being accomplished session musicians, you would expect a polished performance, and tonight they did not disappoint.

Situated in a deconsecrated neo-gothic Victorian church, 291 seems at first an unlikely venue for Lautrec's blend of dub bass (from Raphan-Laye Kebe), urban beats and Latin percussion (Stephen Davies), but scratch just beneath the surface of the church's history and you discover more ties to music than just hymns and psalms - it was once the regular haunt of the 59 Club, founded in1962 by motorcycling priest Father Bill Shergold in an attempt to reform errant young mods and rockers - even their bikes could get a blessing!

Sadly, 59 Club relocated in the late sixties and the church eventually fell into disrepair, but at it's heyday the club boasted over 10,000 members and chapters can still be found all over the world.

Following renovation in the late nineties, 291 now houses a gallery, restaurant and bar and the clientele are, on the whole, a little more refined. The bar is situated in the north wing, and once inside you realise how ideal the location is for such an event - intimate, but never claustrophobic.

Lautrec appeared in their niche, neither chastising nor supplicating as they delivered their up-beat benediction. The natural acoustics added layers of depth to Sylvia Demetilla's crystalline vocals, and lent a haunting resonance to Kevin G Davy's horn playing. It's hard to make any firm comparisons of style; at times strains of Cinematic Orchestra, Blue States and Zero Seven bubbled beneath the surface but then the deep Latin groove would kick in, driving the sound in a whole new direction.

Whilst perhaps not matching 59 Club's attendance figures, Lautrec still managed to attract a sizable congregation, all eager to give thanks and praise.

It's still early days, but with their combination of decks, live instruments and sublime vocals Lautrec look set to draw a devout following - watch this space for news of future gigs!

 

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