Mura Masa gave an electrifying performance at Rescue Rooms on Monday night, stunning the crowd with old favourites and surprising them with some gorgeous new material.
Mura Masa (whose name is taken from a 16th century Japanese wordsmith who apparently was “possessed of a violent and ill-balanced mind verging on madness”) started off creating trap music in his bedroom in Guernsey. It wasn’t long before his tracks were picked up by BBC Introducing, and the rest is history. He’s gone on to release two albums, and a third is now in the pipeline. His live show brings the talented Jadu Heart and the incredible Bonzai into the fold – so it was one of those lucky days where we got three for the price of one. First up were the eclectic Jadu Heart, a two piece who signed to Mura Masa’s Anchor Point label last year. Taking to the stage in geometric masks which obscured their faces – a reflection of their online anonymity – they played a mixture of songs from their EPs Wanderflower and Ezra’s Garden. Having never heard any of their music before, I was unsure of what to expect, but they had a beautifully ambient and ethereal sound, with flourishes of other genres like RnB, soul and funk. Particular standouts in their set were “The Love” – a bongo driven, tropical sounding summer jam, and the more uptempo “Late Night”. All in all. they gave a solid set, and with their unique and diverse sound are definitely a band to watch out for in the future.
So it was off with Jadu Heart and on with a whole new setup to herald the imminent arrival of Bonzai. And what an arrival it was. She sprang onto the stage, full of infectious energy, dynamic and carefree. She commanded the stage with ease, engaging with the crowd and giving a masterclass in how to perform a live show. Her sound couldn’t be more different from Jadu Heart’s – the tempo of her music is fast, sometimes frantic, and draws on influences like afrobeats, grime, rap, dubstep, techno and drum n bass. Her sound is best demonstrated in the song she closed her set with, “KBG” (Knickerbockerglory), a tongue in cheek ending to an incredible set.
Now the wait for Mura Masa began, the crowd stirring and restless. The stage was completely cleared and all that was left was a small elevated platform in the middle with a whole host of different instruments. Guitar, chimes, keys, drum pad, laptop, little sound board… The Guernsey boy was going all out. What seemed an age later, Mura Masa finally took to the stage as the crowd went crazy chanting his name. Joined by the spirited Bonzai, we were treated to an explosive rendition of “Love$ick” before the duo launched into “Nuggets”, a new song released this summer with an infectious refrain that had the whole crowd singing along. As he took us through his set, the whole time Mura Masa stood like a man possessed behind his machines, setting up beats, playing guitar and adding beautiful flourishes on the keys to some of his tracks. In some ways the wall of instruments made him seem quite reserved and distant, and he didn’t speak to the crowd much. The moments when he was alone on stage were quite intense; beams of light would shoot out from around him, the songs (“Lotus Eater”, “Hell” etc) sounded especially glitchy and fevered, the drops in them were big and dramatic. Having Bonzai appear intermittently helped to keep the mood light and the atmosphere a bit less heavy.