They may be 40 or 50 years younger than Silver Apples’ Simeon Oliver Coxe III, but London duo Tomaga have plenty in common with tonight’s headliner.
Deploying a fearlessly experimental, improvisatory onslaught of abstract electronica and propulsive rhythmic drive, Tom Relleen’s eerie analogue chills hark back to the ghosts of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, even while fearsome drummer Valentina Magaletti hammers out drum tattoos with all the intensity and invention of Jaki Liebezeit.
In an era in which all too many contemporary combos seem to equate a Krautrock influence with yet another trip down the Neu!-derived motorik path, Tomaga are possessed of a sonic brinkmanship and questing nature far closer to West Berlin’s original spirit.
Modern incarnations of the once musically mind-expanding can walk a precipitous path, as anyone who bore witness to the disastrous return of White Noise’s David Vorhaus to the live arena in recent years will affirm. Yet faith in Simeon is rather stronger than that in many 60s boundary-breakers, and this Elephant and Castle den of iniquity is full to bursting by the time the 76-year-old seer arrives.
Now the sole member of Silver Apples following the passing of drummer Danny Taylor in 2005, he cuts a considerable dash. Swathed in lasers and dry ice, his cowboy hat and sombre attire lend him an air of Jodorowsky-esque authority.
Hearteningly, it soon becomes clear that the peculiar strain of cosmically aligned psych-pop he created is as vibrant as ever in the here and now, and as a rattling rhythmic undercarriage battles the pulsations of a bank of vintage oscillators, these kaleidoscopic ditties soon weave a powerful spell.
Slight though his voice is, its feyness remains an omnipresent ingredient of Silver Apples’ charm, and the evening soon becomes less about paying homage to an electronic innovator and more about submitting to an eternal marriage of the primal kick of garage rock and the lure of the other-worldly.
By the climactic Oscillations, the sparks that fly between the extraterrestrial abrasions and his mellifluous songcraft are enough to invoke euphoria in the crowd. They leave this smoke-filled railway arch safe in the knowledge that Silver Apples, almost half a century after their inception, remain more than capable of transcending both time and space.