Ichi – Vortex Jazz Bar, London, 17th April 2014 1

Ichi – Vortex Jazz Bar, London, 17th April 2014

Having already seen him support Rozi Plain at the Village Underground in London previously, I was expecting grand things from Ichi, playing at the Vortex Jazz Bar. With a fabulous entrance that saw this musician take to the stage on stilts wearing a red outfit similar to that of an elf, this talent was setting a precedence that he would ultimately have to live up to in order to please this anticipating crowd, mostly a predictable Dalston plethora of bearded men.

The support, in the form of These Feathers Have Plumes, stimulated the audience, preparing them for the entrance from the Japanese Bristolian. Juxtaposing recorded sounds that were similar to the calming sounds of the waves and jungle, with an interesting use of live instrumental (hitting a drum cymbal and oversized, water-filled wine glasses with a bow) Plumes positioned the audience in a very atmospheric and psychedelic room, intensifying the vibe in the Vortex. Conveying similar sounds to that of a clock chiming, Andie Brown (who is the sole sound recordist for TFHP), hits those over-sized glasses like a gong, creating fantastically cinematic and haunting reverberations.

Harmonica attached, Ichi, the main headlining act, strides on stilts from the back of the room onto the stage. Adorned like a Santa’s Elf, in red, dressed in apron and beanie, there is a sense that this artist is yet to provide treats to children at this Dalston gig. The other reference that automatically springs to mind is that Ichi is the more resourceful, more vibrant, better-named Dick Van Dyke (well, the DVD that resides in Mary Poppins’ world), a one-man band, but with instruments that I have difficulty describing, being imaginative inventions of this musician. At one point during the gig Ichi even looks to be playing what aesthetically looks like his own heart, some form of bag pipe that is red, camouflaging into his overall look for the East London gig.


Short of surprising the overall response from the audience is jovial, enjoying the entertainment, as we all regress to our childhoods. This is an inevitable response to an artist who is utilising balloon helium to affect his vocals in terms of the pitch, also requesting his partner on stage to complete an oblique take on pat-a-cake, after physically incorporating an old typewriter into his set, featuring the mechanical timbre. Not only that but there is a certain amount of audience participation demanded from the crowd as they tapped their palms, evoking tenuously the sound of rain for his simple and expected title, Rainy Day. Accompanied by a mini-accordion that rainy day to me resided somewhere in southern France.

Despite all of this regression we still hear various world sounds including that of the Caribbean with the steel drum and occasional hints of his original Japanese roots, being from Nagoya. However, what does seem to trademark this musician is the literal take with his music when we consider the song titles (Mosquito, Chinese Restaurant, Rainy Day), and the contextual ingenuousness that seems to surround him. With his child sitting in the audience absorbing the atmosphere, giggling and socialising like the best of us, I am sure I am not the only one thinking that Ichi’s audience was that of one, adding a visual and auditory stimulant to a family member, influencing their music taste from a very youthful age. As he was singing along to Mosquito (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) his son seemed to be in his element, engaging with his father and his art-form whilst playing to the hipsters of Dalston.

Championed by other imaginative artists and those with their ear to the ground such as Lauren Laverne and David Byrne, this man could really take off with his own range of childrens instruments, allowing them to have their very own stilt basses, kalilophones and hatbox pedal drums (whatever they all may be). Clearly, from the audience reaction tonight whilst witnessing the more intimate bond between musician and son, there is a gap in the market for Ichi branded, playful, vibrant toys. Colourfully entertaining!

Photo by Chris Stone

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.