Damo Suzuki's Network, 24 September 2005, The Spiegeltent, Dublin

As part of his Network project, Damo Suzuki arrived at the Dublin Fringe Festival with local instrumental group The Jimmy Cake backing him. A match made in heaven I feel. Not since Suzuki visited Germany many moons ago has he found a band that he worked so well with.

The Jimmy Cake have been producing wonderful jazzy post-rock sounds for the last five years or so. In more recent times they seem to becoming more and more possessed by the ghosts that inhabited Kraftwerk’s machines circa Autobahn. Tonight they have embraced the spirits completely.

The set was four long pieces of improvisations that bridged both The Jimmy Cake’s own distinct sound and that of bands like Faust and Suzuki’s former Can. Closing my eyes it felt like I had travelled back 30 years to Cologne:  it was a thrilling experience and all of the performers on stage seemed to be feeling it too. As expected, Suzuki’s voice has become deeper and less airy than on his most famous recordings. He seems to work his voice more, singing in a range that is far more open to improvisation. Suzuki never tries to dominate the proceedings, instead his voice is just another instrument weaving in and out of the mix. As for The Jimmy Cake, they have recently lost their trumpet player and Suzuki has filled the gap nicely.

Lisa Carey’s clarinet provides a foil to Suzuki’s voice, her playing complemented his vocals very well. Leaving his accordion at home, Jurgen Simpson joined Paul Smyth on keyboards. The pair provided the backbone for the evening’s music. Simpson tended to stick to more melodic sounds whereas Smyth spent a lot of time pounding rhythms that cause the muscles in your neck to force your head to nod in time. John Dermody’s drumming was at times sparse and to the point, keeping with Smyth’s rhythms and adding lovely little fills and beats when they were needed.

My only complaint with the evening was the guitar sound:  while the bass was clearly audible among the other performers, the two guitars where sometimes lost and muddled together. Most of the time this didn’t matter as there was so much going on it was hard to single out anything and the guitars formed a wall of sound behind the rest of the group. Hopefully this show will make itself out into the world via Damo Suzuki’s Network albums but until then I’ll have to make do with this review.