What a gig! How to describe such breathtakingly beautiful sounds? Bristol’s own KOAN Sound duo Will Weeks and Jim Bastow gave a mind blowing aural and visual experience at their long awaited debut album launch last Thursday night. Arriving on the scene at the tender age of sixteen with dubstep hit Clowny/Blessed the two have been on an epic musical journey together since meeting at school. Their eleven-track debut LP Polychrome was launched on their own Shoshin imprint in December.
First up on the support bill, Sorrow played a set featuring elements of deep dub, two step and garage-influenced musical deliciousness. Monuman was next on the bill, pleasing the crowd with heavy dub electronica intermingled with elements of glitch trip hop creating an ethereal soundscape.
With Bristol’s own Neverlution Sound System expertly providing the crispest sound quality that completely filling the vaulted ceiling of the Trinity, every spot in the room covered. We were immediately blown away, KOAN Sound started the set with super heavy dub that crept up on us. Weeks on the drum machine and Bastow on the keys/decks combined with red laser lights and visual screens showing red cubes turning into hexagons. The bass was vibrating punters’ throats, dizzying the body and the mind with new sensations. You were in their grip with no escape.
The bass was vibrating punters’ throats, dizzying the body and the mind with new sensations
Hustle Hammer provided a moment of calm, the dreamy lullaby-esque tune was played to a backdrop of macro photography forest visuals. With Chalk it Out we were treated to guitarist Chalky White coming onstage to accompany Bastow and Weeks, the three combined covering us in new waves of glitchy swampy funk electronica. Though the new album has a softer more listenable sound, it still retains total danceability.
Though the new album has a softer more listenable sound, it still retains total danceability
With previous releases focusing more on the electronic side of music, it was refreshing to see the duo deciding to feature more of a live element for this album. The result is a living breathing organism straddling every genre. The Zulla was pure liquid washing over you, combined with blue visuals, the bubbly keyboard taking us deep underwater. The gig was a full on aural assault seamlessly interweaving influences and styles.
The result is a living breathing organism straddling every genre
The Bristol crowd were clearly loving every moment. Here to support their local home boys, punters were throwing themselves about displaying some epic body popping dance moves.
Viridian Dream got us lost in its beautiful ethereal melodies interjected with punchy rhythms. It was hard not to close your eyes and get carried away into pure orgasmic filth nebulas, whatever they are… Chilli Daddy and Hydroplane gave the crowd some drum and bass beats meshed with some funky bass and jazz piano.
Bristol-based creative studio KōLAB helped the duo create the visuals, the album’s name Polychrome feeling very apt at the gig with the visuals featuring a different colour and shape for each song, it was like a visual and aural mood board taking you through various emotions. Prism Pulse kept the crowd dancing with the psychedelic dub intermingling lovingly with some haunting keyboard.
Prism Pulse kept the crowd dancing with the psychedelic dub intermingling lovingly with some haunting keyboard
The duo thanked Bristol warmly before coming out for an encore with Jongmyo, elements of the east coming through from the Chinese guitar. KOAN Sound aptly got their name from a kōan – in eastern spiritualism it’s a story, dialogue, question or statement that is used in Zen practice to provoke the ‘great doubt’ and to test a student’s progress within Buddhism. KOAN Sound seemed to have achieved their purpose as Buddhist masters imprinting every audience member with dreamy Zen like smiles on their faces. It was less of a gig, more of a spiritual journey.
It was less of a gig, more of a spiritual journey
Words by Charise Clarke
Photos by Sarah Koury // KōLAB Studios