Live Review: Mobius Loop, Spiral Scouts, Avital Raz and Felonious Monk – The Mad Ferret, Preston

mobius-loop-preston-mad-ferret-bohemiaThere’s a scene in the North-West which is spiritually and politically aware. Something that leans more towards international culture and experimentation than your typically British genres. This night, hosted by Prestonian bohemian group, Mobius Loop was a night designed to showcase the variety of cultural music in Preston and it certainly did fulfil its job.

Mobius Loop had invited delta blues guitarist, Felonious Monk to come down to The Mad Ferret to open the night. Felonious Monk is a traditional guitarist playing mainly African-American blues covers by artists such as Son House and other musicians who are way beyond my knowledge of early blues musicians. Monk, at the very least, captured the attention of the Sunday night audience and was a perfect opening act for the music to follow.

The musician to follow Felonious Monk was Jerusalem-born singer-songwriter, Avital Raz. Raz has had a life dedicated to music. She has trained in classical music as a vocalist and composer and moved to India to study Dhrupad – an ancient style of meditative Indian song – for six years. Having recently moved to the UK, she’s now bringing those skills to a new audience, an audience that is well known for its acceptance and attentiveness to new genres.

Although quite clearly a folk artist, Avital Raz has elements of her music which shift and change the preconceptions of her songs. With Indian instruments and collaborations with Mobius Loop, Raz showed just how experimental she was. Collaborated with the textures of Mobius Loop’s music, the instrumentals themselves were enchanting combined with the bewitching siren vocals of Raz herself. Avital Raz gave a performance that was audibly seductive.

As well as pushing the boundaries with tones and sounds, Raz has a great strength in terms of poetry and storytelling. Her track ‘Edinburgh Surprise’ was something of a shock to most members of the audience; telling the story of an Israeli who had anal sex with a Palestine. Although controversial and humourous simultaneously, the song was making strong political points. Avital Raz was an experience to watch and listen to, with her blues, Indian and country ballads, to name just a few, she can only be described as a multi-cultural musician who is putting the idea of art back into music.

Spiral Scouts were the third band of the evening, starting later than planned, but considering it was a Sunday night the audience stayed put. Spiral Scouts describe themselves as “funky folk, and acoustic giggerypokery”. They are very much a band that are interesting to watch. Together they sound like a Mediterranean style folk band, and considering they’re from The Fylde, I have no clue where this influence came from. They sound like European folk rock and roll with a performance uplifting and high-tempo to match. Although lead singer George Spittal has this deep mumbling tone to his voice, this heightens the style of their musicianship, and with the frontman as relaxed as he is, this is what makes the band as cool as they are to watch.

With Mobius Loop’s percussionist Sean O’Hara helping out, Spiral Scouts gave a performance of impeccable quality, sounding both rock and roll and with vibes of traditional folk roots music all at the same time.

Finally, spiritually intense six-piece, Mobius Loop took to the stage. Since the addition of Katie Ryan to the group, there seems to have been a balance within their style. Although they still maintain the same energy, in terms of harmonies, the testosterone has been balanced out by the charming and beautiful vocals of Katie Ryan. Also, with the integration of some of her original solo songs, the band can focus on some of the more tender elements to their music. This showed that the band had been practising. With the DIY ethics of the Bohemia nights at the Beautiful Planet Cafe, it doesn’t really matter how raw a band sounds. In fact, it usually makes it a little more appealing to watch. This is where I’m used to seeing Mobius Loop. It was clear that the band had been working hard towards this night in a more conventional venue as they sounded fantastic and in coordination with one another.

The unconventional harmonies sounded beautiful this evening, with Tom Robinson’s falsetto being a particular highlight in between the power and anthemic party sound of the trombone. Mobius Loop have a unique and inspiring energy on stage. Upon watching the band you become mesmerised by the different elements; Sean O’Hara’s hypnotic percussion, Sean Zaniboni adding the European bohemian sound with the accordian, Nathan Bowe providing the tribal double bass, Alex O’Hara on lead vocals and keyboard, Katie Ryan taking up violin as well as vocals, and as already mentioned Tom Robinson’s falsetto combined with trombone in between.

Mobius Loop are one of the most exciting bands in Preston and they showed this on Sunday evening. They closed with new song, ‘Zen’ and it was a wonderful way to end the evening. The track itself was a combination of the strongest elements of the band, beginning with the softer harmonies and ending with music to dance to. The attraction to this band may be the spirituality, creating a performance that is unique to any other band in the North-West right now. Although many bands are playing traditional folk music, Mobius Loop are feeling every single note they play, and this is visible in performance.

We hope to bring you more on Mobius Loop in the future as we continue to document the scene in Preston and surrounding areas. 

Photograhy by Noel Murphy