The Electrogogo night is in full swing when we enter the red underground boudoir that is Madame Jo Jos. The DJ’s dark new wave beats throb past art deco wall hangings, while characters befitting a Stanley Kubrick film mill around looking sharp.
One is wearing a Clockwork Orange-style bowler hat with a Thriller leather jacket, another is kitted head to toe in elegant equestrian gear, of course with the ubiquitous black eye-liner.
It is to this crowd that London electro poppers Temposhark begin playing. The trio, Rob Diament on vocals, Jasmin O’Meara on bass and Luke Busby on synths, are relatively new on the gigging circuit and are evidently keen to make an impression. Launching straight into their debut single Neon Question Mark, released in December 2004, foppish Diament doesn’t hesitate to pout and strut across the stage, swishing his floppy fringe hither and thither and lustily crouching towards the dancing crowd. He carries it off like a natural. His breezy vocals are filled with a thousand sighs, punctuating each frank lyric with a Bolanesque fey accent.
The song’s a good un. Neon Question Mark is full of phat off-beats, pounding basslines and consisting for the most part of an understated spoken tirade that froths up into an amelodic assault in the chorus. Dirty and sleazy, it’s luxuriously late-night but intelligent enough to be an electro generation anthem.
Same with B-side Crime. The tagline “I want real gold in my hand” is sung ephemerally but greedily by Diament, effortlessly oozing a louche life style behind poppy beats and bulging basses.
While the band clearly have a talent for writing hooky electro, they lose the audience a little by not making full use of their dynamic range. High frequencies are needed to complement the domineering phat sounds. It’s all still a little too thin to lift the crowd into an ecstasy, instead leaving most feet to shuffle distractedly. The bass guitar is also undistinguishable above the overriding synths, rendering it almost pointless.
But what isn’t pointless is Temposhark. Sounding loosely like Free Form Five, the London-based group have a lot going for them, especially lyrically in the reflective Invisible Ink, coupling sombre lines such as: “Don’t leave the world without changing something” with a genre not associated with cutglass emotions or thoughtful words. It’s like a breath of fresh air coupled with a gasp of nocturnal cigarette smoke and disco steam machines.
Ending with upcoming single Little White Lies, the tone is back to dance mode, though rather than losing yourself, you end up listening intently to Diament’s story of two people who see no harm in having an adulterous one-night-stand in some hotel.
At hotel Temposhark, the disco is always playing, there’s always a late bar, and the rooms are guaranteed to be full of sinful couplings. Delicious.