Gonjasufi in London

Sydneysider Jemma Cole reviews her first ever London gig, and it almost brings her to tears:

Gonjasufi is a man that has fallen under many different categorisations, including ‘space hip hop’, ‘electro Hendrix’, ‘psych rock’, ‘nomad soul’ and the list goes on. As he comes out with new releases it merely exists as a testament to the rare nature of his eclecticism that generates the foundation of his music. This rapper/ DJ/ singer, as well as yoga instructor by day, goes by the name Sumach Ecks aka Sumach Valentine.

I have to admit, I was so excited at the fact that this San Diego-born man was playing two days after I landed in London that I may have cried a little bit. Fittingly, I arrived on the damp and grey ‘summer’ night in East London to a gothic, World War II bunker-esque venue called Village Underground, filled with a mix bag of hipsters and nerdy musos.

First up was Blue Daisy, a local producer who kept everyone entertained for the majority of his set as the large enclosure filled out to its brim to listen to his fusion of familiar and unheard world/post dub-step beats and samples he mixed together on his laptop.

The crowd at one o’clock in the morning was getting pretty anxious at this point for their headline act to get up on stage (playing times were pushed back by his extended sound-checks that left us out in the rain). Next thing we knew an intense looking dude came on stage sporting a gleaming bald head with a single plaited pigtail smack on the forehead centre (we later found out to be his manager but could equally be hailed as the mystic man’s possessed back-up dancer) and started playing a berserk dance track remixed with Indian organ samples whilst flailing around violently. A while after, Gonjasufi and his two backing DJs entered the stage and launched into Demonchild, with a mix of samples sounding half like he was being introduced into the ring and summoned by the gods, before his brilliantly distinctive smokey vocals cracked in: “My mumma said ‘son look what the world’s coming to.'”

Overall the set comprised of songs from his latest LP, Muzzle, as well as his EP, Ninth, his critically acclaimed debut Sufi The Killer and some unheard new stuff, which seemed to be equally enthusiastically received by the bursting audience. One pinnacle moment in the set was when Kowboyz & Indians manically ripped through the speakers and the crowd were worked into a frenzy. The rest of the show was as erratic and bewitching, as Gonjasufi and his enigmatic manager took turns in convulsing like an exorcism was taking place. Another track from Sufi the Killer came at the end when Ecks made the last call out to the audience, asking them what they wanted to hear and he then unleashed into the spiritual stoner haze that is Sheep.

Review and photos by Jemma Cole