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Zombie Zombie/The Oscillation (live at The Lexington)

The Lexington, London
24 October 2012

The weirdest thing, it would seem, about tonight’s opening act The Oscillation, is that they didn’t go the whole hog and add an extra “e” to that pronoun. Because this is a band who take their psychedelia seriously. Possibly a little too seriously, but if you’re a psych band then you can’t really be blamed for that. They start straight into a pleasingly massive swirl of echo, effects and coloured oils, and from then on the overall effect is like a package tour of psychedelia itself.

There are many enjoyable stretches relaxing by the Hawkwind pool, and a brief trip to see the ruins of Syd-era Floyd (fortunately they avoid the overpriced and somewhat tacky tourist traps of post-Syd Floyd), and quite a few drunken shenanigans at the bar with Spiritualized. There are a couple of mis-steps, mostly when they drift away from the psychedelia – for example, we didn’t have a luvverly time the day we went to Bauhaus – but it’s pretty fun all the same. You’d probably add people you met on the holiday on Facebook, but you wouldn’t invite them over for Christmas or honour their Farmville requests. And the last song they play chucks all their strengths to the fore, ending, as they began, on a high.

And then it’s time for Zombie Zombie. Zombie Zombie (Zombie Zombie, you may recall, was an ace Spectrum game, and also, through the magic of parentheses, an excuse for me to use the word “zombie” six times in a row, thus winning a personal bet I had with myself) are very French – firstly, they’re from France and consist of two very revolutionary-chic drummers and a dude with a bank of old-skool synths, and secondly, two of the three are wearing stripey T-shirts.

So that’s the stereotyping out of the way, now onto the lazy horror movie referencing. Well, they kind of brought that on themselves, partly by calling themselves Zombie Zombie and partly by having done an album of [post=zombie-zombie-play-john-carpenter text=”John Carpenter”] covers. But it kind of works, so I’ll stick with it. Watching Zombie Zombie is like being in the church from Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, only it’s being used for an awesomely massive rave, and everyone’s having a good time.

But everyone has the same dream – except this time it’s not a dream from the future, it’s a dream from a parallel universe where instead of making horror movies and doing the soundtracks himself, John Carpenter just concentrated on the music, meaning he branched out into new and thrilling directions, chucking in a bit of jazz (they play their amazing reworking of Sun Ra‘s “Rocket Number Nine” tonight, and the place goes mental), some motorik beats and a whole lot of danceability. It also means the music got a LOT more joyful. It’s a strange combination of near-tribal percussion and retro-futuristic melody, and it really works. Each song is stretched out to trance length, and it’s a salutory reminder of what can be done in dance music by people playing every riff and beat live as they happen.

Stunning.

No, hang on, “stunning” sucks when it comes to zombies. More like “a shot through the brain”. But in a good way.

-Deuteronemu 90210 really needs to play Spectrum games again-

(Pix: Gary Parsons)

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