Tuesday 21 November 2017

Monika Werkstatt at Cafe Oto

Oh, yes, it's Ladies' Night
And the feeling's right
Oh, yes, it's Ladies' Night
Oh, what a night (oh, what a night)...

...Monika Werkstatt at Cafe Oto - yes, what a night! You don't need me to tell that electronic music is a male-dominated world (which part isn't? bingo?), just like Rock, but unlike that traditionally macho realm of phallic axe-wielding at first glance there should be no reason for electronic music being a (mostly) men-only domain, until you start thinking about stereotypical male gadget obsession and the historical culturally-enforced tradition of DIY (inc tinkering with electronics).

Issues surrounding all that (not bingo or DIY) were discussed in the Q&A. An interesting point was raised about how women are expected to be 'brilliant' whereas it's OK for men to be 'all right'. The conclusion was that women should be allowed to be 'all right' too. The issue of expectations aside, pure percentage stats dictate that there's a lot more average male performers in electronic music simply because they dominate.

Politics aside, if it's possible to lay them aside and see the performers as just that (perhaps there's an irony there in rightfully demanding equality, ie not just being viewed as 'female artists', whilst presenting an all-female collective - tricky) with nothing to prove Monika Werkstatt proved it. It was an evening of seductive, passionate, humorous, powerful music, each of the four players performing two songs before a collective session finale. All four were present on stage throughout and it was entertaining just watching their individual reactions to what the performer was doing.

Before the collective, support came from London's La Leif, who brought beats and bass fit to shake Cafe Oto's foundations with a very tough set.

The first of MW to perform was Sonae, whose subtle, richly-textured ambient sounds set a good tone...

Then Barbara Morgenstern ('Queen Of Harmonies') delivered two superb songs, the power of which was amplified times 10 in a 'live' context...

Watch out, it's Pilocka Krach, surely the prankster in the pack, giving us all a good slap with her stomping Electro-Power-Pop! Do you like the beat? Yes, I did!

Finally in solo form, 'the boss', Gudrun Gut, organiser of the whole collective and legendary figure on the scene for years.

The quartet session was as intriguing as you'd expect from four diverse artists with their very own styles, working together intuitively, in the spirit of improvisation, just don't call it 'Improv', Gudrun's ambiguous about that scene and I don't blame her. As she said, it's something you can hate yet be drawn to at the same time. There's nothing to hate about Monika Werkstatt. Do check the collective album. It's an essential release from this year. As an encore, the joint was jumping to Who's Afraid Of Justin Bieber? Here's a brief video I took...

Oh what a night!

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