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Reviews: What a Cracker! : Monsieur Camembert & Doch at the World Beat Festival

'events' review by Emma Nelms

Gypsy Soul at Brisbane Powerhouse 28 February-2 March 2003

Brisbane’s warm summer continues, a sultry evening, the odd patter of rain and there I was beneath the clouds at the Brisbane Powerhouse’s outdoor stage on a lush lawn by the river. The Gypsy Soul show at the inaugural World Beat festival promised to be amazing. Brisbane band Doch already have a strong local following of shimmying, velvet clad groupies and they were just the supporting number for 2002 ARIA award winning (for World Music Album of the Year) Monsieur Camembert.. Neither makes background music unless your life is a Romany inspired musical epic and you’re an alcoholic.

Doch’s music is a frenetic and very brassy mix of Eastern European Romany rhythms, think a wild gypsy wedding at about midnight when the dancers go mad under the influence of several hours of heavy drinking. An eight piece ensemble consisting of clarinets, piano accordion , violin, trumpet, banjo, double bass, drums, Cajon & percussion and occasionally tuba, Doch are loud, brassy and brazen but on this occasion, with a somewhat hard almost rock music edge. They are very intense and in this locale, it was hard to immediately get intense, I was in picnic mode; intrigued by and challenged over my potato chips by the music’s fury. Clarinets screamed, the violin was electrified, the double bass was well worked and the trumpet was divine.

By contrast Monsieur Camembert. have a certain lucidity and sophistication that gave them a definite edge. They have a more eclectic repertoire of Eastern Jazz, gypsy music and most particularlyKlezmer numbers. Where Doch raged, Camembert swinged, their music rollicked and rolled, nicely negotiating fiery vivacity with sensuality and humour. Particularly fascinating is the insight it offers to the origins of conventional Western Jazz in Eastern and Klezmer music, fusing the characteristic twang of middle-eastern wind instrument with more familiar jazz beats. On their live CD a didgeridoo is used, emphasising the dynamic and innovation of the group as does the tuneful and jokey number “Istanbul”. Like Doch, they can be frantic and fast too, but this is usually an accumulated, crafted build up than a sustained roar.

In their second set the ensemble, incorporating accordion, guitar, trumpet, clarinet and double bass led by charismatic Yaron Hallis, moved on to more dance numbers allowing a large number to wiggle and waggle with all the innovation and sensuality that this joyous music enables. However Camembert managed some very soft moments too, reminding me of the tender eccentricity evoked by Yann Tiersen in his music for the Amelie soundtrack.

As a double act, Doch and Monsieur Camembert complimented each other well though possibly in the latter’s favour – no doubt a promise of the direction Doch is moving. Beneath the stars of sultry Brisbane night, the crowd danced under the influence of these remarkable bands each one happily haunted for the while with a gypsy soul.


Doch Doch features: Rebecca Craner, Tom Raymond, Michael Patterson, Michael Rogers, Nick Lavers, Jane McEniery, Will Eager and Tom Donaldson

Monsieur Camembert. features: Yaron Hallis, Svetlana Bunic, Julian Curwin, Edouard Bronson, Vladimir Khusid and Michael Lira

All at Brisbane Powerhouse inaugural World Beat Festival. with Chris Bowen producer

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