Fringe Music

Camino de Sangjaru

Assembly George Square

three stars

WE HEAR them before we see them as the three Korean gypsy musicians process into the room amid a clatter of percussion, wearing huge, white candyfloss-like hats. They’re not real gypsies, they point out, although one of their opening numbers sounds as if it might have been derived from Django Reinhardt.

They are, however, wanderers. And wonderers, having created their

music through investigating the interface of tradition and modernity.

On a screen behind them there’s a computerised version of Alice down the rabbit hole that gives way to images of their pilgrimage to

Santiago de Compostela and scenes from home.

It’s the music and the verve with which they play it that matters,

though, and using traditional instruments including the ajaeng (a

zither) and a janguu (drum) plus acoustic and bass guitars, they

create sounds that are by turns frenzied, moody, groovy and vibrant.

Their ajaeng player is particularly impressive, coaxing a range of

tones by bowing, depressing, pummelling and plucking the stout,

cable-thick strings. At one point a guitar string breaks and while the

guitarist’s off replacing it, the drummer orders a spontaneous ajaeng

improvisation – “Five minutes,” he barks benignly. An entertaining and invigorating hour with a certain ramshackle charm.

Fringe Cabaret

Aaron Crow: Fearless

Assembly Rooms

four stars

AARON Crow may well be fearless but many in his audience are quaking.

Will this severe looking, sinisterly smiling gothic figure choose them

to assist in one of his increasingly menacing stunts?

You pays your money and you takes your chance of having to slam your hand down on a paper bag that may or may not contain an upright dagger, bear witness as Crow swallows a length of string and a series of nails that re-emerge tied together, or sit with one of Crow’s many apples Crow on your head as he goes all William Tell with a bow and laser-assisted arrow.

Crow doesn’t say much but for those not invited to join him onstage – and some who are - his minimal gestures of instruction are amusing. To a doom-laden soundtrack he walks on gilded splinters, has someone walk on him as he lies on those splinters and then pours candle wax over his eyes, covers his head with foil and ... those of a nervous disposition should look away. Scary but skilful and certainly filed under ‘don’t try this at home’.