REDRICK SULTAN with KORO KIDINGA and SUGARLOAF KEY at Pub 340

Photography by Jill Hancock :: Sugarloaf Key are very, very new. Their MySpace page screams inexperience, and yet I like their style. It’s more rock than prog, and just off-the-beaten-track enough to enjoy without being too crazy to appreciate. This is the kind of music that can bridge the gap between rock and prog-rock, for those music lovers who can’t get past a lack of vocals. Bass player Alex Rodgerson has the clearest lyrics, and the coolest microphone, but all of the vocals were muffled. The three of them take turns singing songs. Their songs sound good (you can listen to “Searchin'” here), but the parts are not as cohesive as they could be. They each use a lot of effects, which might be too much in a live setting. Strangely enough, their recorded music sounds much better, but the live shows will improve with practice. You can download “Searchin'” for free, and this recording is remarkably good quality for a band with only 330 MySpace hits.

Koro Kidinga are calling themselves progressive art-rock, and that’s not wrong. My first thoughts on seeing lead singer and (only) guitarist Eric Wettstein were that he was much too neat for Pub 340. With a formidable set of pedals and only bass player Malcolm Walness to accompany his riffs, he truly carries himself. A band like this proves their talent merely by having only one of each instrument in the band. This band reminds me of Man Your Horse, a band I just couldn’t enjoy, so I wasn’t surprised to see Julian Marrs in the audience. Eric seems to have overcome the vocal issues that prevented me from truly enjoying Man Your Horse. This four-piece band has both a drummer and a percussionist (who sometimes switches to keys). The keyboards gives them the prog-rock landscape that is missing from their other songs. They’ve got the building songs and structure down pat, and their second-last song was the best. I’d call them a good version of Man Your Horse with a dash of The Armadilettantes and a tasteful pinch of cowbell. They’ve added just enough keyboard to create ambiance without dominating the sound. Heavy rock on the last song, fast tempo and a lot of feeling. Enough lyrics and tempo changes to keep you occupied without losing the touches of prog that set them apart from boring old rock bands. Listen to “Thanatos I: The Red City” for the perfect example of their sound (and more good quality recording).

I spoke with guitarist and singer Spencer Hargreaves before the next set, and learned that Redrick Sultan has been playing together for seven years, so I’m looking forward to a marked difference in their cohesion. Spencer described how they picked up instruments in grade eight, influenced by the likes of Linkin Park and metal bands. As they went through high school, jazz band lead them all to Capilano College for jazz. It was their love of the progressive rock of the sixties and seventies, combined with their more recent background in jazz, that evolved into the music they play now. I must admit, I can’t even begin to categorize Redrick Sultan with a clever concoction of genres.

The first thing I like are their instruments, as both the electric guitar and bass have wooden faces (is that even the right expression?) Keyboardist Angus McKee breaks out the saxophone when he needs to, and it couldn’t sound better with this music. I can’t help but think that the jazzy edge of the saxophone leans towards Eastern influences, which could very well explain the second half of the band name. The vocals were not at all what I was expecting, but they’re not bad. The first song alternates between prog-rock and eastern flavours, morphing into a heavier rock sound later on with a cool jazzy ending. The second song has a jazzy saxophone introduction, and bass player Noah Jordan takes over the keyboard. The tempos pick up and break down throughout the songs, less tempo changes than a continuous weaving and unravelling of the tapestry they’re creating. Their years of evolution and months of daily jamming are clearly apparent in their cohesion and flow. The third song unravels into an almost post-rock… I think the genre I’d invent for Redrick Sultan is prog-jazz. “King Song” (listen on MySpace) sounds like Aladdin singing “Master of the House” from Les Mis, if he grew out his hair and wore Converse shoes. It’s certainly a crazy fun experience, with enough weird yelling to make it funny.

The closest comparison I can make (in terms of the live experience) is Two Apple Tobacco, Mo’jumbo and Bike, although I’m proud to say that I cannot begin to compare this music to anything I’ve heard before. The audience was dancing and flailing with the best of them, swinging their long hair and generally having a great time. One guy even sat on the floor and beat out the rhythm with his hands!

To get a taste of their wild side, listen to “Giraffe Food” on MySpace. On the jazzy side of life, check out “Time Travel – But We Are We,” which features both keyboard and saxophone grooving with vocals and interesting noises. “King Song” is very theatrical, the one that reminds me of Les Mis. For the last few months, Redrick Sultan has been jamming daily as they recorded their album, which will be released in the coming months. They’re touring Canada through late April and early May, so check out their tour dates on MySpace.

Comments (1)

 

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do a review Lauren. We really appreciate it.

    Eric & Koro Kidinga