Live Review: Woven Entity at Pure Vinyl Brixton

Tucked away on a side street off the bustling Brixton Road, you’ll find the gem that is Pure Vinyl. Whilst primarily a record store specialising in funk, soul, jazz, and reggae vinyl, founder Claudia is on a mission to make Pure Vinyl much more than a record store and turn it in to a real hub for the community. To that end, not only will you always get a friendly welcome when you visit the shop whatever music you’re searching for, but if you keep an eye on Pure Vinyl’s social media feed, you’ll also get the chance to head along to some incredible events that are open to all. There have been in-store appearances from New York’s legendary The Last Poets, as well as more local talent such as soul singer Omar Lye-Fook and broken beats/grime artist Shy One. There has even been a set by DJ Maseo of De La Soul.

Last Friday however, jazz was the name of the game as Pure Vinyl played host to Woven Entity as they launched their new album Two. The Pure Vinyl crew like to get things moving early. When we arrived, the racks of records had been moved aside, the band had already set up and the house DJ’s were playing some beautiful, soulful jazz with grooves so deep that not moving to the music must mean there’s something deeply wrong with you. Conga drums and a more conventional drum kit were already in place and a black bass guitar lounged against the cupboard that the DJ’s decks were set up on, but it was the table by the entrance to the shop that really caught the eye. That table was covered in every sort of hand percussion instrument you can think of from maracas past a kalimba to various shakers and numerous other instruments I’m at a loss to name. My curiosity was piqued further by the more esoteric equipment scattered through the melange, like the golden pig toy sat on the amp by the window. Instrument or mascot? I have to admit I wasn’t sure at that point…

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Whilst the band may be new to you, do a little reading about Woven Entity and you might just find that you’ve encountered the handiwork of these musicians before. Originally formed in 2010, the core of the group consists of Lascalle Gordon (DJ, multi-instrumentalist and founder of the Brand New Heavies), Patrick Dawes (who’s worked as a percussionist alongside DJs in the Minstry of Sound, recorded and toured with the Herbaliser before joining Groove Armada), drummer Paul May (who’s played with artists across the UK improv circuit as well as being part of quartet Forth Page and supporting bluesman Duke Garwood) and bass player Peter Marsh (who seems to have played with a truly bewildering array of artists across a range of genres). Various guest musicians have joined this core group at different times and tonight Woven Entity were accompanied by saxophonist Chris Williams (also of Led Bib).

With some cracking tunes ringing out from the shop as the sun began to set on a Friday evening thanks to the DJs hard at work inside, a small crowd began to gather (mostly on the pavement outside the shop) and there was a really friendly vibe, plenty of people making new friends and catching up with old ones. Finally, with the band (and audience) gently prised away from the London Beer Lab just around the corner and a good-sized crowd gathered, it was time to see just what sort of sounds were going to be coaxed from that table of varied musical delight…

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At the most superficial level, what you’ve got in Woven Entity is an expanded rhythm section with a penchant for improvisation and experimentation, but in reality the whole is so much more. From the very start of the first jam Woven Entity’s sound has a swirling intensity anchored on the incredibly tight foundation of Paul’s drumming and Peter’s bass that fully captures the attention of the crowd. Together their instruments create rolling waves of deep underlying melody which Patrick, Lascalle and Chris took turns both to ride and sculpt in to new fantastic shapes layering their own contribution on to the growing sound. The noises that Lascalle creates with each selection from his diverse toolkit are as surprising as they are variable, but incredibly, each seems to fit perfectly completing the sound the rest of the band are creating. I will admit that I’ve never seen a squeezy pig, or deflating balloon played live before, let alone with the dexterity and delicacy with which Lascalle was able to.

The overall effect has a depth and thickness that is simply mesmerising. The faces of the artists display such a truly profound level of connection to their music that it’s impossible not to find the scene inside Pure Vinyl compelling. Rhythms at once spiritual and expansive but also with an almost tribal compulsion behind them wash through the crowd which has swelled considerably as more and  more passers-by are drawn in by the music. Faces press against the windows to catch a glimpse of the band in action and it was only as the band’s third and final piece came to a close that I realised that the sun’s light had faded to be replaced by sodium streetlight dusk.

Last Friday by Claudia brought some really quite spectacular and unusual music to the heart of Brixton and let anyone passing who was curious enough to stop and listen be part of it. Judging by the smiles and the buzz, her mission to connect people through music and make Pure Vinyl a real community hub took another big step forwards…

Review and Photography by Simon Shoulders
facebook.com/WovenEntity / purevinylbrixton.co.uk

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