Showdown, heard second on Saturday evening, is this trio’s defining piece of music, dealing as it does with both superheroes and sex.
Leo Tardin is something of a mad professor turned caped crusader of keyboard wizardry, while hip-hop poet Mike Ladd details the war between love and sex in a climaxing polemic. Adding the urgent bump pulse is Dominik Burkhalter.
Tardin takes some serious piano training as the bedrock of his style, but, influenced by minimalism’s overlaying repeat patterns, the greasiness of funk and the mechanistic beat of 21st-century dance music, achieves a dance-trance state. The Fender Rhodes remains the retro instrument of choice but he uses the Minimoog to great effect, too, digging deep with crunch and buzz in the bass lines.
His ability to keep the constant patterns of Tempest going while all the time adding the bombastic bass line was mesmerising.
Ladd moves, for the most part, outside the conventional hip-hop parameters of rhyme and rhythm, taking inspiration from further back: from the 1960s protest poetry of The Last Poets certainly, though his socio-political commentary also sounds, to these uninitiated ears, like a more urgent, less stoned Gil Scott Heron.
He speaks because he can’t sing, but he still puts across a compelling version of the old Gene McDaniels classic, Compared To What. And he can do conventional hip-hop when required, as he showed in the crowd-pleasing freestyle encore.
Burkhalter infused funk elasticity into the breakbeat style, and he was the most consistent player of the evening.
Despite poor PA sound, which marred the clarity of the vocals and made the keys sound harsher than they should have done, the small upstairs room of the Hare & Hounds had the atmosphere of a hot Brooklyn night – no bad thing.