Minami Deutsch at Shacklewell Arms, London - live review

The Japanese krautrock trio leave this London audience speechless

Crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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Information on Minami Deutsch is difficult to come by. Appearing in 2014, the Japanese trio put out a tape in 2015, also released on 12-inch by UK label Cardinal Fuzz. Word of mouth led to initial pressings selling out, and a 2016 performance at the Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia proved to be a highlight. All this has led to a boisterous crowd packing in for their debut in the capital.

For this evening’s performance, the band have expanded the line-up to a quartet, with the addition of Keita Ise on bass. Wasting no time, the four launch into a new number that has much in common with the power-minimalism of early Hawkwind or Spacemen 3, a simple, steady riff that sounds like it will just repeat until fade, but seven minutes in, this starts to phase in and out as the band mess with the formula.

The first sign of the Neu! influence the band are renowned for occurs during Futsu Ni Ikirenai, another song that quickly settles into a groove, but halfway through, a fuzzed solo from guitarist Kyotaro Miula comes in that genuinely makes people jump. Not to be outdone, Taku Idemoto takes his own wah-wah solo over the fade-out of his bandmate’s one.

The Michael Rother/Klaus Dinger sound continues on Sunrise, Sunset, a circular guitar pattern that sticks in the head. It would be an obvious set closer from the released material, but the band are obviously confident in their new songs, and push on with a number that resembles the pastoral prog psych of labelmates Kikagaku Moyo.

The actual set finale is a frantic number that summons the spirits of Can’s recently departed Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit to the room. Idemoto signals for the drummer’s attention, and taps out a suggested beat on the body of his guitar for the final number, a highspeed run-through of single Tunnel.

Gigs like tonight are starting to shine a spotlight on a band that have been in the shadows quite long enough, and the skills honed on their Live Krautrock Night covers events back in Japan are now rendering audiences near speechless. Tonight, all that could be heard are cries of, “Oh yeah!” Can would’ve been proud.