No, it’s not some exotic drink – but exotic nonetheless!

Lychee Lassi is a German band that performed at Barefoot on Friday night and when The Dancer, The Sibling and I got there only a smattering of folk were around. Not too long after, however, the place was buzzing and the bar was busy with all sorts getting their beverages together so they could settle back and check out this group, sponsored by the Goethe Institute and billed as performers influenced by funk, hip-hop, jazz and blues, among other genres.

Consisting of Roy on drums, Dirk on electric guitar, Beat on electric bass and Vincent on the ‘steel wheels’ – twin turntables, the band started off with Roy’s heavily dominating drum rhythm and the accompanying music that I took to be influenced by hip-hop and gave the audience an inkling of what was to come – something slightly different to the usual rock, jazz, funk or hip-hop that we have been used to. The second piece only increased the apprehensions, as a discordant electronic blues-type number, interspersed with a variety of sounds and rhythms that emanated from Vincent on the turntables had me more than intrigued and definitely appreciating the technique and creative abilities of the foursome.

And so it went. Java turned up at the end of the first number and promptly headed for Mo’s corner from where he could do his thing, brew in hand and head in that special place, up close and personal to Vincent performing his magic on those ‘steel-wheels’.

Maaan, dat cat be somting else – sheeet! I be watchin him reeeal close wit Mo by my side, an to see dat cat operate dose discs, makin dose sounds wit his fingers an palms beatin on dat vinyl, getting in at jus da right time to merge dem vocals to da rest of what be goin down wit his bros, be somting else! An den dere be dat heavy blues vocals by Olu Dara dat he merged into dat back-beat dat jus blow ol Mo an me right away. Vincent be havin som markers on his discs, but jus how he did his timin an co-ordinashun be somting else, let me tell yo – shuurre be somting speshul. Sweat be pourin down his face and we be seein dem beads hangin on da edge of his nose before dey fall onto his console and set dere shimmerin like prisms as dey vibrated to da rydem in dose spotlights. Dat dude be too mucking fuch maan!

Rapping with the members of the band after their encore and before dinner was served (we had been invited by the Goethe Institute to dinner and to meet the players by virtue of The Dancer’s cultural connections), I learned that they had been playing together for the past eight years. Based in Berlin, they not only played together, but also with other bands individually. They picked their unusual name from the menu of an Indian restaurant, according to Beat, who found it difficult to put a tag on how exactly to describe their music and to which genre it belonged. It wasn’t exactly jazz or blues, not quite hip-hop or funk, certainly electronic and consisting of elements of all of these styles.

Roy, apparently the leader, played drums and always provided a very strong rhythm that set the pace, with just a snare drum, bass drum and cymbals – uncomplicated and extremely effective. Dirk on lead guitar – unostentatious and original, did marvellous things with a special ‘box’ that occasionally converted the guitar sounds into what sounded like a tamboura. Beat provided just that – a very strong backing support, dominating at times and at times fading into the background, but ever present. And Vincent blew everybody away with his amazing coordination and ambidextrous manoeuvring of his stack of 33 and 1/3 rpm vinyl collection. Richard Lang, Director of the Goethe Institute, told me over dinner that Vincent was probably the numero uno DJ in all of Germany, and watching him perform his magic left me in no doubt of this whatsoever.

Dinner was a cool and informal affair with interesting exchanges with Richard and his wife Cora de Lang – an artiste in her own right and curator of a recent exhibition of work by the monk Bikkhu SumedhaAja Schmidling, in his earlier life and a painter par excellence. The film made by Richard and Cora will be re-screened on November 26th at 6.30pm at the Goethe Institute. Well worth a watch for those interested in individuality personified.

All in all – a delightful evening extremely well spent and Lychee Lassi sure provided a refreshing change from the mundane.

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