Say Psych: Live, Bitchin Bajas/Xam/Elizabeth, Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 23.10.15

Brett Savage, eminent guitarist with the utterly marvellous Dead Sea Apes, dons the Psych Insight mantle to report on an excellent gig in Leeds, featuring two very gifted two local musicians and the rather wonderful Bitchin Bajas. The pictures are his too, enjoy…

For those of you not already in the know, Bitchin Bajas (pronounced Ba-ha’s as one of their number later helpfully and subtly cleared up) are a band featuring one Cooper Craine from the marvellous Cave. Bitchin Bajas take the Farfisa love of Cave and marry it to some wonderful Terry Riley-esque modular phrases and spiritual jazz flourishes.

Opening proceedings tonight is Elizabeth, alter ego of man-about-Bradford and one-man music industry – Andy Abbot. Mr Abbot also plies his wares in Nope and That Fucking Tank, but tonight he is taking a more solitary and quixotic path. Adding a contact mic to a thumb piano and then feeding it through all manner of effect pedals, Abbot coaxes a woozy round of a bewitching melody tweaked by constant manipulation and is enough to induce hypnotic swaying within the crowd.

Matt Benn/ Xam

Next up is Matt Benn from Hookworms, owner/operator of an impressive bank of synthesisers that seriously look the part. Quite far away from the fiery brand of Eddy Current Suppression Ring-esque indie punk of Hookworms, Xam is Matt Benn taking his cue from the Berlin School and pulling glittering kraut melodies seemingly out of thin air. I say seemingly, as on a few occasions, some elements appear to come in slightly at odds with what he is playing, only to be brought in line with the confidence of somebody who knew what he is doing all along. The result is quite wonderful and the crowd are clearly rapt by the end. At this point, I would highly recommend the album Xam released on Deep Distance which I picked up that night.

Bitchin Bajas
Bitchin Bajas

Starting with a warm, undulating drone that gives way to the hi-hat intro of Rias Baixas, Bitchin Bajas deliver a masterclass in tautly controlled minimal music. Augemented by the flute, saxophone, keyboard and various bits of percussion of Rob Frye and the organ of Dan Quinlivan (who now along with Craine make up the band), the majority of the set is culled from the recently released Transportuer EP. Halfway through the set gives away to a percussion heavy, tribalistic take on Marimba which is utterly riveting to behold. 

The set culminates in some howling spiritual jazz sax accompanied by ambient keyboards to wonderful effect.