I Am Kloot, ICA, London

ICA, London

A Mancunian institution like their friends Elbow, dog-eared three-piece I Am Kloot share with Elbow a complete detachment from whatever passes for the zeitgeist in rock music. For this reason, they've been ignored by the more fashion-conscious parts of the music press but quietly built up a respectable cult following. Singer Johnny Bramwell is drier than a very dry gin; introducing Storm Warning, he says drily, "This song concerns drinking and disaster," which could, in fact, apply to much of the Kloot oeuvre. These are songs that always stay for a lock-in, that get drunk and say things they shouldn't.

I Am Kloot are astonishingly good musicians. It's a simple palette (guitar, bass, drums), but they make it an extraordinarily dynamic one, playing often with the fluid intuition of a jazz trio. No Fear of Falling is accompanied by guitar picking worthy of Dylan at his pre-electric best. Many of the songs are built around Andy Hargreaves's inventive, decidedly un-rock drum patterns. In fact, these are songs that never do the obvious thing and which, without exception, end precipitously. Bramwell's voice is a rich, guttural rasp one minute, a piercing, falsetto the next; most redolent, perhaps, of Lee Mavers of the La's, but with a greater range and a more haunted timbre.

Their best songs are majestic. The oblique observations of Cuckoo conjure the elliptic, enigmatic magic that Echo and the Bunnymen used to be masters of. The Same Deep Water As Me even bereft of the mournful French horn of the recorded version, is tidal and profoundly compassionate. Bramwell is an emotionally unflinching songwriter, never afraid to capture the most uncomfortable scenes. Refreshingly adult, unforgivingly intelligent, it's hardly surprising that I Am Kloot don't fit in among the flash and strut of the next big thing. So it is all the more heartening that they're finally getting the audiences they deserve.


David Peschek

The GuardianTramp

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