REVIEW By Steve Cooke
Following the wonderful Angelique Kidjo the previous evening Manchester’s AFRODEUTSCHE took to the stage with the Manchester Camerata string section conducted by Robert Ames at Factory International for the MIF23 performance of their composition Psalms, an expression of worship, with a nod to Handel.
A completely different but equally engaging vibe which drew the audience in to a world of haunting vocals, classical piano, strings, electronic sounds, and cinematography.
AFRODEUTCHE explained that a recent diagnosis of autism had led to a realisation that their understanding of 'love' was different from other people's - taking them on a deeply personal exploration of which some of these songs were a part.
The performance opened with AFRODEUTSCHE at the piano, surrounded by the Manchester Camerata’s strings, set against a backdrop of meditative candlelight.
They commanded the stage wearing a golden sand-shaded robe with a stunning red headdress.
AFRODEUTSCHE intertwined these hymn-like melodies with the Camerata’s adagio string lines to moving effect, captivating the audience.
The “songs of worship,” encompassed repeated lines such as “I give you all” and wordless melodies, brooding to joyful, with the Camerata’s staccato passages or gentle sways creating an immersive experience.
After about 45 minutes, beats were introduced with Michael England’s remarkable footage projected onto the cinema screen behind the performers.
Layered string lines intertwining with images of metal gears representing the movement of time were accompanied by simple but highly effective breakbeats.
As the conclusion approached, 808 beats and Acid House sounds merged with dramatic adagio strains from the highly versatile and always excellent Camerata.
The piece was further intensified by images of bound and writhing bodies in bicycle inner tubes climaxing with the screen becoming an inferno of raging flames.
The audience were on their feet passionately and affectionately applauding, knowing that they had just witnessed something special.