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The Taste of Tea @ Judith Wright Centre 15 Feb 07

Author: Patricia Escalon
Sunday, 25 February 2007
The Taste of Tea @ Judith Wright Centre
15 February 2007, 8:00 pm


The Judith Wright Centre auditorium is a dance floor for the evening, its cavernous depths dotted with chairs and tables, while the stage flanked by a screen showing The City of God in all its gory glory. The audience consists of a mixture of hippies, muzzos, yuppies, computer programmers in motorcycle jackets, and a few fashionistas.

As Prussia begins, the visuals are switched off, giving way to deep, tribal sounds. Their music is full of reverberation, in a strong jam mode. The flutist plays with melodies, staccato at first, then Persian in his lyricism, which lingers in the air. A techno loop enters, layered with rap, dark hip hop with a bit of breakbeat. Clarinets mix on the synth with scratchy turntables, while the keyboard pounds, emitting sax sounds. The impression is middle-eastern.

In their next movement, Prussia interprets the blues with deep bass, high tinny electric guitar, betraying a strong Frank Zappa, and Kruder/Dorfmeister influence. The mixer is reminiscent of Chet Baker and Tupac in duet. At times he grabs the mike , speaking Jamaican patois. He uses the bass as a thick cord to bind the music together.

Heavyweight Champions take the stage with Prussia. Their version of reggae is experimental, playing with dub. Prussia mixes their tracks while they play each instrument individually, then join them into a harmony. After some eminently danceable songs, The Taste of Tea splashes onto the stage.

Yusuke Akai (guitar and percussion), Daiji Igarashi (guitar and voice), Nik Mayer-Miller (drums and percussion), JoJo Dogshit (bass and moves), MC Potato Masta (lyrics) are the Taste of Tea. They sprung on the Brisbane music scene in the last year, as the finishing act for Two High festival. Since then, they have performed around Australia, both as support act and headliners.

Two monks with conical hats and begging bells slowly walk onto the stage, bongos beat a steady rhythm, the tambourine gives out a soft concentric wave. Maracas join in, as the monks shake their bamboo bells, standing on either side of the stage. Gradually, the mixer adds keyboard reverb notes, each note filling the space like a bubble. JoJo Dogshit dances as the monks fight each other.

The bassist and the other guitarist pluck on their strings, as a counterpoint to the catchy African beat. The monks crouch, motionless, while Yusuke Akai strums feverishly, and Dogshit dances like a madman, his dreadlocks flying. They mix Latin, Brazilian and African beats. As the bass drops off, the beats slow down on the drum. The guitars step back, except for an occasional strumming, which goes back to a bubbly feeling. Their harmonies are now hypnotic, meditative.

As they move into a new track, the drums intensify, the guitarists catch up, and create a tribal, orgiastic sound, mellow, funky, with bits of ska thrown in. Little droplets of electronic sound filter through the waves of percussion, with Akai and Daiji Igarashi plucking away with abandon. Wind instruments appear, the drums carry the tune, pushing you to dance. Now a little foxtrot informs the rhythm, the guitars beacons in the melody. A merengue beat layersover everything else. The beat slows down gradually until there is only the tambourine.

Reverb runs the show, each piece moving in a pendulum, from one sound to the next. What is the taste of tea in sound- Peppermint tea served in a Moroccan glass, poured over ice, with real mint leaves at the bottom and lemonade gushing in for a quick dash of zest.

Their funky, psychedelic tunes are so addictive, I stay until the last track, hypnotised to the point of missing my last bus home.

You can catch the Taste of Tea in their next appearances at the following dates and venues:
10 March 2007 2:30 pm at the Fortitude Rising Festival, at the Rotunda, Brunswick St Mall, Fortitude ValleyBrisban
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