Monday, 19 September 2011

"More computer in the monitor please": Rainbow Arabia in Dalston

I was disappointed by Rainbow Arabia a couple of weeks ago in Dalston. The gig was pretty sparsely attended, for a start, and it felt like they were waving from a ship that sailed long ago in terms of the Mixmag-via-Middle-East maximalism. Shame they couldn't have released more material ages ago to capitalise on the 2008 buzz.

First published in Loud and Quiet

Rainbow Arabia at the Shacklewell Arms, Dalston
6th September 2011

The faded tropical glamour of the Shacklewell is a fitting venue for the similarly faded tropical clamour of Rainbow Arabia, the LA husband-wife duo behind two EPs of M.I.A-meets-Sublime Frequencies electro. Now touring to promote the full-length Boys and Diamonds (a slightly out-of-character release for Berlin techno label Kompakt), Danny and Tiffany Preston adopt a 1-1-1 stage formation, with the hired drummer hands providing some dynamics against the banks of programmed synths and snares. Dressed down in navy cardigan and Nike runners, Tiffany eschews the tribal raver aesthetic (very 2008), but if they’re so inspired by ‘world beats’ and the Middle Eastern dance music of Omar Souleyman & co, why are they so afraid to cut loose? Despite the cacophonous carnival stylings, some songs fall flat when man and machine don’t quite synchronise, while the preset rave whistle quickly becomes a chore on the ear. And really, is there a sadder question in popular music than “Can I have some more computer in the monitor?” None of this would really matter if Rainbow Arabia were bringing a few stone-cold party bangers to the table, but a few hours later and the songs have slipped from my mind like Saharan sand.

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