Wibutee, Spitz

wibutee onstage in near darkness

Wibutee in dry ice

More dry ice and darkness

Out to the Spitz for a gig with Dan, bumped into James there. Wibutee were the reason for attendance. I wouldn’t bother to make the journey for either Miso Soup or Polar Bear. I’ve seen the former before, supporting Eiving Aarset – enjoyable, but not a must see – the latter seem to be somewhat feted in the UK, but on the evidence of the couple of songs I stuck around for, they appeared fairly parochial. Their star player was very much their drummer, but the twin sax leads didn’t seem that noteworthy. With their enthusiastic rockabilly and occasional unison lines, they reminded me of Aki Kaurismaki’s Leningrad Cowboys. I did have my hopes raised a little as they made an awful lot of clanking noises at the beginning, but it turned out to be just something to do with setting up. Anyway, they were pretty much upstaged by Wibutee, who preceded them for another all too brief set. The Norwegian four-piece have traced a fascinating path over two albums that have explored a hybrid of improvisation, electronica and dance music. Times change, however and electronica’s going out of fashion. Guitars are in and Pete Docherty’s the man of the moment (there are a few lookalikes sporting that hat in the audience tonight, as seen silhouetted in the first pic above). Which is not to say that Wibutee are slavish followers of fashion, whatever their contemporary sartorial bent (Mr Kornstad, for example, is resplendent tonight in black suit, silver tie and trainers), but their music is definitely changing. The group’s electronica expert, Rune Brondbo, appears to spend as much time playing guitar as he does keyboards. Gone are the streamlined tone poems of much of Playmachine, instead the group’s sound is much more energetic, gutsy and stark. The music is also less predictable, swapping carefully accumulated layers, gradual progression and often delicate shading for sudden breakdowns, grand gestures and on one occasion a toytown-like keyboard solo. At the end of the set, Tor Egil Kreken symbolically raises his bass guitar aloft like a standard-bearer for a new movement. The album – Sweet Mental – is promised for later in the year. If anyone can bridge the gap convincingly between the noisy vibrancy of neo-new wave and the still-promising thrills of electronic jazz, it’s Wibutee.

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