KOYO, Zozo, Johnny Sly and Azraq Sahara @ Aatma
Words and photos: Anthony Firmin
Wednesday 29th March 2017 is a dreary, sad and wet day. The day when Article 50 was invoked and 50 people came out to watch and listen to an interesting mix of bands at Aatma, possibly the most difficult venue to find on the planet. Down a back street, along a cramped unlit ginnel, up two steps to an anonymous metal door that opens outwards and then up two sets of stairs and through another door; if it wasn’t for the sound of a band playing you would have no clue there was a music venue there!
As I arrive Azraq Sahara are already in full swing with their desert goth tunes. Formed by Sara D. Satàn, they grew out of a personal project in the Athenian psych scene but have now relocated to Manchester. Songs such as Desert Wind epitomise their style; chilled, mellow and lo-fi, and in keeping with that their music is available on a cassette tape. Uber cool.
The 15 minute turn around between bands turns into 40 minutes as Zozo needlessly faff and mess about, completely screwing up the timings of the bands (not good for those of us on public transport). Is it worth the wait? Absolutely.
They are an eclectic mix of new wave and ska. Take a handful each of The Beat and Talking Heads, throw in some edgy experimental music, a spoonful of Big Country and a pinch of King Crimson and the resulting cake is Zozo. There is nothing I don’t like about this band as I bounce and rock along to all their songs along with the 50 other folk present. I need to see them live again but I’ve got to get to grips with their music first. Infectious.
I am expecting KOYO to be top billing but going on third is going to work in my favour. This is a band I checked out completely on spec after seeing an ad in Classic Rock Magazine and this is the “launch tour” for what I believe is their first release, Tetrachromat.
Dreamily sophisticated on their studio recordings, live they are an altogether different proposition straddling a line between Pure Reason Revolution and 65daysofstatic but with an experimental flavour which shows a definite nod to Hawkwind and Ozrics.
They finish their set with the stunning Tetrachromat, the repeating guitar riff in the second half of the song building up to huge crescendo. Certainly music to get lost in and overall very proggy.
Undoubtedly this is a band to keep an eye on, their work will impress the masses greatly in the future, personally I can’t wait for their return to Manchester. Cosmic.
There are seven band members to Johnny Sly. Then again the band photo shows eight. But tonight there are only four. Such is the randomness to this outfit, but it does include blue haired local guitar legend John Ainsworth who I saw at a solo gig three days earlier. And whilst they are fun and unassuming, we hear them bemoan the fact they have to borrow other bands amps as they sold theirs for, well, you know. And they sold their tuning pedals too.
But it’s gone 11 when they get onstage to do their thing and I am only able to hang around long enough to listen to the first couple of songs. It is their music that does the talking at the end of the day and their hauntingly soulful songs do that quite simply.