Hooker, Jeremy Smoking Jacket/Rose Kemp

Bill Cummings 11/02/2005

The night the NME “shockwaves tour” rolled into town, I took myself off to Chapter to watch two independently promoted acts…

“Note to self; learn new songs before playing them” Rose Kemp admonishes herself, for having to stop and restart the picked out tones of a new track. Once finished she launches into the building majesty of “Violence” furiously clanging her guitar, her body of bones is hunched over her mic, squeezing every last breath out of her chest, a mess of hair, her voice like a cry from the dark: at once beguiling, haunting, anguished, cutting you to the quick. A startling solo interlude from Miss Kemp, amidst a live show with her experimental noise collective Jeremy Smoking Jacket.

Speaking of which, tonight Jeremy Smoking Jacket produce fantastically refreshing and innovative sounds. Each piece begins with SJ Esau concocting instrumental Loops, from a clarinet note, a bash on the keyboard, or a cymbal. Fellow experimental pioneers Kemp and Max Milton splatter layers of instrumentals, clarinets and haphazard keyboard sounds all over the rough deconstructed canvas of these tracks. The Jeremy Smoking Jacket experience is tantamount to destroying all your preconceived ideas of what music is, prising open time signatures, female mannequins and vocal melodies into avant garde shapes, Kemps voice intermitedly used as a weapon to bash things into a beautiful form. Take for instance “Brought Home Cold”; churning splodges of guitar, drums caressed by Kemp's glorious vocal tone - somewhere between the edginess of Bjork and the rawness of P J Harvey - that truly brings shape and a haunting quality to these periods of instrumentation. The clattering rhythmic chaos of “Woman Hits traffic” is both disturbing and unique, wind sounds drive their way through a melodic spluttering beat, through which Kemp's moaning repetitive refrain add a sense danger: a car crash, impending doom. Imagine the sound of Four Tet, twist it, add a pinch of Pink Floyd and Carina Round and maybe you can begin to envisage a tenth of the aural avant-garde rhythms that Jeremy Smoking Jacket present live.

What's so unique about Jeremy Smoking Jacket is that it feels like a experiment in front of your eyes and indeed in front of the eyes of the cross legged awed Chapter audience. At once point a radio is de tuned as loops of percussion and clarinets scatter across the room, Kemp's keys ride the rhythm, before she uncoils another splendid vocal. Captivating, refreshing and genre defying Jeremy Smoking Jacket are an experiment that works.

In total contrast are Manchester headliners Hooker, clean, precise punk riffing, all delivered with a snarl from female frontlady Zoe. Each track is taut, and delivered with a bash and a crash from the John McEnroe look-alike on drums accompanied by his partner in rhythm on bass. Hooker are the sound of Sleater Kinney taking notes from Mclusky. Tracks are delivered in short two minute bursts of fury ,“You and I” is nicely constructed, razor sharp guitars and a Hole-esque Riot girl insistent vocal melody line full of catchy “ooh oohs”, that certainly gets asses moving in the room. Elsewhere the menace of “Alligator” with its dangerous back alley fuzz and heartily pissed off set of lyrics is immensely satisfying. While “I like it my way” is less good, simple to the point of repetitive, it lacks the bite of the previous tracks and thus renders it a little less effective. Hooker are enjoyable in their simplicity, but the night clearly belongs to the Jeremy Smoking Jacket.