Listening to the end of the world
Luckily for Brothers' street cred in the poor and radicalised quarters of London, the day in question saw a vast storm descend on the city. As lightning lit up dark thunderclouds and the miserable streets of the East End turned to mud, a prominent member of the Church of England was forced to duck into a disreputable pub on his way home from work. Inside the doors of the seedy establishment, the reverend in question was amazed to discover a big crowd of plebs drinking cheap stout and counting down the end of the world.
If I have to be in a bar when the apocalypse comes - and, let's face it, there would be worse places to be during the apocalypse than a bar - then I want the music of Scalper playing on the jukebox. Nobody else would sound right. A former member of the controversial British hip hop crew Fun Da Mental, Scalper recently swapped the traffic of London for the broken-backed waves and soggy forests of West Auckland. Although he rejects the strident Islamism that has made Fun Da Mental (in)famous in Britain, Scalper writes songs which often draw upon the experience of living in an Islamophobic world in the era of 9/11, 7/7, and Bush's War of Terror. Scalper made a sort of comeback to the stage a couple of weeks ago in Ponsonby's PR Bar, at a gig sown together by Powertool Records boss Andrew 'love machine' Maitai. Scalper's music would make the most ferocious thunderstorm sound like the purring of a pussycat. Backed by dirty, weirdly syncopated beats and the tight, angular guitar work of his sidekick Roger Atmore, Scalper barks, mutters, chants, and whispers about
chemical warfare, mad mullahs, imperialism, and brawling angels. While those beats bounce about, Roger's guitar hisses and moans, and his lyrics sketch a very twenty-first century dystopia, Scalper jerks and snaps his way across the stage like an unmedicated epileptic or a malfunctioning robot.
Even free noise fanatic Muzzlehatch, who thinks that hip hop began with Vanilla Ice and ended with Double J and Twice the T, announced himself mighty impressed by the Scalper phenomenon. That bloke in the chicken suit knew he'd have to lift his game, too. See you at Scalper's next gig, if the world doesn't end in the meantime.