•• Chikinki @ Metro Club, London, 4 May 2004
•• Published: SoundsXP, June 2004
•• Original article:

Many bands try to combine good old rock and roll with electronic music but few manage to make all the elements mesh together as a coherent, unforced whole. This is, without a doubt, the aim of electro-rockers Chikinki. So how do the Bristol based five-piece fare?

Their set starts with frontman Rupert Browne combining his soft yet shouty vocals with some Supergrass style theremin stroking while Boris Exton hammers the keyboards with such ferocity you wonder whether he's keeping anything in reserve for the rest of the night. You can tell from the start they are just as interested in enjoying themselves as they are in entertaining the crowd in front of them.

The bass heavy, driving drums of The Way We Are give way to the mellow fluffy twinkle of Nasty Side, living up to it's name as the track lets rip with a rough, frantic guitar backdrop and vocals turning from light and sweet into an abrasive angsty yell.

Flitting restlessly between delicate and light to hard and heavy, the skittering, almost drum and bass rhythm of the next track is reinforced with a pounding kick drum and laid over with punky vocals, momentarily making way for a nice harmonic interlude before the kick comes back in. This is when their sound works best, creating a spine tingling tune that combines raw, ragged energy with melody, movement, rock and dance.

The genre abusing continues with Browne's Peter Gabriel styled vocals and frantic fret-thrashing coupled with growling electronic overtones and oddball Beck-like quirks. Chikinki don't seem to be afraid of combining machine made beats with live drums and throwing in whatever creates the sound they are after whether it be from guitar, keyboard, drums or vocals. Generally, this approach works well but at times they create such a sonic menagerie that things can get a bit overwhelming - there is certainly nothing subtle or understated about this hyperactive performance.

The grand finale drags all of the elements of the Chikinki sound together as Browne's vocals are splayed over insistent, driving drums. A keyboard refrain follows, the song seemingly over, then the music gradually swells and Browne goes to the back of the stage to fetch a drum pad, thumping it above his head to build the tempo back up and end the set fittingly on an ecstatically messy crescendo of keyboard, guitar and raw electronic noise.

Whether the unremitting, sometimes exhausting, energy and spirit of their live performance will or, in fact, can translate to their forthcoming album remains to be seen but their recent signing to a major label coupled with last month's support stint for The Charlatans should ensure you will be hearing much more about this lot over the coming months.

A full on performance of rabble-rousing intensity that produces the musical equivalent of an enlivening smack in the face! Be careful though, no one likes a nosebleed…

- Ian Roullier, 05/2004
Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014