The Collage Confection

A review by Carol Cooper.

Collage Nights at the Karamel Club – a tasty new showcase of sweet sounds, augmented by heady visuals, leaves Carol Cooper caramelised with wonder at Wood Green’s Chocolate Factory cultural zone.

Wednesday, 8th Feb, saw the launch of Collage Nights, a new fusion of sound and vision that brings an eclectic programme of emerging artists to the Karamel Club, a cool, yet cosy theatre/arts venue tucked away in this edgy North London.

Set to be a monthly event, Collage Nights is curated by the force of nature that is Sarah Kate Michel (who also compared the launch) with the not-for-profit organisation Jatanil Banerjee Music.

In the Karamel’s gorgeous, light and airy event space, a buzzy, friendly crowd stocked up at a slick bar (serving excellent world food from next door’s Karamel Restaurant, along with organic wines and craft beers) and settled down to enjoy a diverse programme of four music acts, each of which was backed by the eye-popping live visuals of VJ Igor Olejar from the band Autorotation. Solo acts in particular were enhanced by Igor’s video projections as their silhouettes played against a trippy feast of light and colour creating a sumptuous synaesthetic experience.

The first act was soul singer Eli, who hushed the room with her soaring vocals and percussive guitar playing. Reminiscent of Tracy Chapman, her songs were plaintive, rhythmic laments that displayed her vocal range and spoke to anyone in the room who’d had a broken heart, or in fact any heart at all.

woman in white shirt playing guitar

Next up was the cellist Miriam Wakeling who rendered the audience near breathless with a trio of dramatic 20th century pieces, starting off with the eerie Dolcissimo, from Gremata Cellum, by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, followed by Fantasia, the first movement from Solo Sonata for Cello by avant-garde American composer George Crumb, which displayed Wakeling’s virtuosity with its blend of plucked chords and bowed melody that offers a nod to Bela Bartok.
Her finale was a reinterpreted, looped version of the famous cellist party trick, the Ist movement of Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello, which is also influenced by Bartok, along with Hungarian folk riffs.

woman playing cello

After a swift craft-beer break, the five-piece progressive indie, trip-hop funsters Flying Tailor brought a complete change of tone with their high-octane brand of urban folk, dub mash ups. Lead singer/guitarist Sujesh Sundarraj has the kind of voice that makes you feel you’re watching a gold-medal gymnast performing a double tucked back flip with a triple full twist. He can send notes that soar up to the heavens with the purity of a choirboy and also belt out deeper bluesy, rhythmic refrains like any tortured folk rock star. But despite his dexterity, you never doubt his sincerity, he feels every note – adding a rawness to a very polished ensemble. Guitarist Antonio Fandan and violinist/keyboardist Monica Strayed Viñoly augment his singing with close harmonies, such as in The Tempest, which opens with plaintive humming and builds to a stormy tangle of minor chords and melancholy. Along with Filippo Galli on drums and Anthony Boatright on bass, each of the band members plays with passion and a flare for improvisation that brings a rich, multi-layered complexity to the sound. Another stand out track in the set was This Is Home, which featured a guest spot by a rapper named Chiu Dat. With a strong beat and a catchy chorus, this powerful Brexit-era plea for multicultural unity had the audience singing along with lumps in our throats. This is a song for our times, performed by band of our times.

two band members playing guitar on stage

Next it was time to chill out to the slinky vibes of psychedelic trance DJ, Psibindi, of Aphid Records. This classically trained Indian singer/producer and founder of the psychedelic trance collective Psy-Sisters, is forging a way ahead for female artists in the industry and is a regular at Azora and Boomtown. Her ambient world music set not only soothed with hypnotic sounds but also provided some serious grooves that lifted team Karamel clubbers off their chairs, onto the floor to round of the night with a little shimmying.

dj woman standing in front of logo

Part of Collage Arts, a leading arts development, training and creative regeneration charity based in Haringey. and supported by PRS Foundation, Collage Nights looks set to be a highly successful monthly mini-festival of outstanding talent that you’d be mad to miss.


For more information on Collage Nights check out the facebook page, like, share and subscribe.

Join us at our next Collage Nights event on the 8th of March celebrating International Women’s Day.