Tricycle Theatre Autumn 2007
Karbido are a Polish quartet who make music on a wooden table.
The effect is always fascinating, sometimes eerie and frequently beautiful, creating a performance somewhere between theatre and concert, evidence of how such distinctions are blurring.
It's not an ordinary table, of course. It is heavily miked from beneath so that any touch is amplified. Rapping produces one sort of sound, scraping fingernails another, rubbing with the palm of the hand another, and the table top is made up of wooden pieces that resonate at different timbres, allowing something like melody to be created.
And the quartet - Pawel Czepulkowski, Igor Gawlikowski, MarekOtwinowski, Michal Litwiniec - play it in different ways in the course of the 50-minute piece.
One sequence created primarily by rubbing sounds eerily like whale song, another uses rapid rapping at various notes to produce something akin to the jolly sound of steel drums, some energetic playing accompanied by barking song evokes a heavy metal band. There are evocations of Asian and African music, of traditional folk songs, and of Western harmonies.
They do cheat a bit. Two of the four have guitar strings mounted on their sides of the table, which they can pluck, strum or bow to create sounds not available from the wood, one has a couple of whistles, the fourth runs his finger around the rims of wine glasses at one point, and there is a backing track to fill in some of the melodic or harmonic gaps.
It's a novelty, but a thoroughly enjoyable one, that wisely neither outstays its welcome nor overstretches its musical vocabulary.
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of The Table - Tricycle Theatre 2007