Levi's Craft Of Music Sessions: Beardyman

With Bass Clef
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There’s something very comforting about Bass Clef; the pulsing Womb like electronica conceives ambient beats that have an almost tribal quality to them. A self confessed fan of African music he fuses this sound with dub which has earmarked him as one of the early purveyors of dubstep; but, rather than wallowing in the well trodden pit he instead ushers in an array of influences from jungle to nestling himself in IDM and Dancehall. Bearded and unassuming Ralph Cumbers foregoes audience repartee in exchange of getting his head down and getting on with it.

Over the next 20 minutes he ushers himself from his analogue synth to getting the audience in a fluster whilst he harasses the rave whistle with his over-zealous tooting. Confessing that it’s too early for him to play really so imagine its 2am. Not 8.15pm. In a Levi’s Store. On a Tuesday night. Half way up Regent Street. So, without any encouragement required the crowd get their eyes wired, shoulders swaying and feet moving like rhythmically possessed hipster zombies, clearly loving it. Amongst the charged dance beats he attacks the microphone with a rather vocal cow bell a more aggressive block of wood and the soothing sounds of his live trombone loops. Definitely one of the stand out performances of the live sessions so far. But next up is the enigmatic, perplexing and not a little demiurgic…Beardyman.

A vocal architect if you like, he specialises in beat boxing, but rather than sticking to a standard formula he incorporates more than a dollop of comedy into his set, which makes him a formidable live act. His innovative brand of performing has earned him cult status across the globe, and catering his act for the show at hand he decides to perform Levi’s songs through history. So as he begins to plot the musical timeline of the hosts TV advertisements you brace yourself for the inevitable as it hits you before you get the chance to detour and bam. Babylon Zoo - Spaceman! Belting out noises into the microphone he records each ones and plays them back as he continues creating his own instrumentation as he goes a long and before long you’re whipped in into a rollercoasting beat box adventure as he takes on ‘Mr Bombastic’, Boom Boom Boom’ and ‘Flat Beat’ with deviations into the ‘Um bongo’ theme and a request for ‘Ghostbusters’.

Often interrupting himself to reveal interesting, or not so (depending on your stance) facts such as Shaggy used to be a marine. No punch line. Solo anecdote. Trying to steer the crowd away from Q&A fishing, asking if they’d prefer more music instead, is of course met with a congregation of cheers. But not before he quips about his lack of face clothing (beards really itch – that is in fact, a fact), having spatula legs and the fact that Jesus invented Hip Hop. “He was there in the beginning man” bellows one audience member. Beardyman – a one man cabaret act / mental genius.

Words by Lee Puddefoot

View an accompanying gallery from Beardyman/Bass Clef's session HERE and watch a video of Beardyman doing his thing for Levi's HERE.

Catch up with all of Clash coverage including live reviews, galleries and video performances HERE.

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