Review: Pika at the Windmill, July 16

Japanese singer Pika was at Windmill Brixton last week. Our gig reviewer Richard Pearmain reports on her performance.

Photo by Richard Pearmain
Photo by Richard Pearmain

Taking over a busy Windmill last Thursday night was Osaka’s Pika, formerly one half of avant-noise duo Afrirampo, with two distinctly different sets. Having recently jammed with the likes of Thurston Moore and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, she enlisted South London collective Werewolves Of London (featuring members of Former Utopia, smallgang and Splintered Man) for the opening part of the evening.

Perched behind a drum kit, she led a Can style improvisation of skittering, crashing drums (of which there were two, as Pika was accompanied on a second kit by Rama of Former Utopia) and growling guitars, punctuated by the odd yelp and cry. It was a hypnotic set, which juddered to an eventual halt, with the eyes of the assorted Werewolves on Pika to see if there were any more surprises in store.

The second half of the evening was a mellower affair, as Pika (in the guise of Moon Mama) played a solo set of songs, including some from her most recent album, Ryu No Sumika. Accompanying herself on electric guitar, with a bit of help from a loop pedal, it was a more intimate experience than earlier, though punctuated by a cheeky request for someone to drive her to Stonehenge and a straw poll of the audience as to which alcoholic beverage she should try (in the end, it was a tie between Guinness and the house brew, Roof Dog).

It had been a few years since Pika had last played in London, and she promised to come back with a proper band – on the strength of tonight’s eclectic experimentalism, it will be an eagerly awaited return.