Photo © Elena Renkin
It’s a multi-sensory, participatory experience, and the audience isn’t allowed to just stand there gawping.
Standing at the back of the sparse crowd in the Trinity Centre’s Fyfe Hall, the opening act plunges me straight into the parallel dimension that is unfurling itself for the evening. UK female beatboxing champion Bellatrix is standing on stage next to 67-year old Scottish jazz singer and ‘vocal improvisor’ Maggie Nichols. The cacophony that comes next is a jolt to the senses, a hint that this is going to be a slightly unusual Friday night.
Nichols combines throat singing, random screaming, mumbling in invented languages and singing in Scottish dialect. It’s as though the blue diva from Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element has been fed the West Country’s entire magic mushroom supply and been let loose upon an unsuspecting crowd. Meanwhile, Bellatrix bounces off these peculiar vocal vibrations with her signature beatboxed bass lines. It’s an outlandish and hilarious spectacle to behold.
During the interval, I observe aspects of what might be at the other end of the rabbit hole the audience is about to plunge through. A stall in the corner of the room is providing all the essentials: pompom eyelashes, badges, plastic third eyes and psychedelic 3D glasses. As Bunty arrives on stage, her two co-performers, Poppy Kay and Zoe Badley, wielding balloons and dressed in day-glo colours, are making their way through the crowd in slow motion, as if underwater.
As one of the lead singers of reggae band Resonators, Bunty’s vocal talents are in no doubt. She starts off with just a microphone and loop machine, and then layers her vocals onto a gently mesmerising mixture of ukelele, drum samples and live bass. She seems to want to kidnap the audience and heave them into a neon-lit, childlike universe, running on its own pan-dimensional logic. Clues to the laws that might operate there are provided by VJ metaLuna’s visuals, which flash on to the screen behind the stage periodically, alluding to ‘seven magic powers’ that seem to propel the festivities.
It’s a multi-sensory, participatory experience, and the audience isn’t allowed to just stand there gawping. Part of Bunty’s entourage, a man in a suit wearing a cuddly bear’s head, is moving ominously through the crowd, stopping in front of different audience members and staring at them. About half way through, the two dancers pull onlookers onto the stage, forming an impromptu choir, while Bunty barks instructions in another made-up language.
Although some of the tunes – incorporating aspects of dancehall, house, hip hop and folk – are catchy, they work primarily as vessels to propel the audience into the world of Bunty’s daydreams, which is a delight to behold and temporarily be a part of. Towards the end of the gig, everyone who doesn’t already have the psychedelic glasses on has been handed them, and the crowd transmogrifies into a massive conga line, fully immersed in the Multimos universe.
Check out a live teaser right here: