Kinobe, live at The Gallery

Life can yield strange coincidences. In a bizarre moment of Audio Snobbery serendipity, Easy C found himself selling his laptop to Kinobe member Chuck Norman, yielding a conversation about all things Snobbery and an invite to see Kinobe at one of London’s best-kept-secret intimate venues, The Gallery at muso-hub Tileyard Road.

Easy C being Easy C, he promptly double-booked his evening following the laptop sale, and so it was left to Cuzomano and John to attend proceedings. Welcomed into a delightfully eclectic crowd of in-the-know folk, we watched a peculiarly elderly man order a very colourful array of drinks before turning attention to singer Rich Hale’s talents. 

Intimacy reigns supreme, swimming in a wonderfully relaxed ambience that inspires a hefty dose of Robbie Williams Millenium-era chill-out nostalgia as Kinobe clear through some of their better-known earlier material – including the inevitable Slip Into Something More Comfortable – but to dwell on the past is to miss entirely why Kinobe are hosting this intimate night. 2019 is not 1998.

Catching up with Chuck after the gig (we had to see how the laptop held up, you see), we bonded over a shared appreciation for live session recording and ruminated on what it means to release records digitally today. Grace Jones is Chuck’s hero – he’s enamoured with the power of her striking aesthetic and combination of percussion with engrossing live performance. The influence shows; Kinobe has made a conscious effort to step-up the live instrumentation side of their music and performances, with additional musicians and a very real focus on singing, where Hale is accompanied by the serenely-voiced Lucy Layton.

It was here that Kinobe became more interesting and show themselves capable of stepping things up a notch. After some sound troubles and a few daft but fun Human League covers, an altogether different energy took hold as the group moved into newer material that is a distance away from the turn-of-the-millennium chillout that made them famous. Still capable of leaning on their origins to craft soothingly engrossing soundscapes, Kinobe do break interesting new ground. Hale and Layton’s vocals on Sunray proved to be your Snobs’ highlight of the night.

It was a special venue for this entirely-ignored genre and talent amidst our contemporary era of [insert noun]-house and other tedious variants of the revoltingly-titled “E.D.M.” Kinobe’s crowd are big fans, vocal in their support. Amusingly, as the set draws to a close, Hale decides to repeat Firebird because he lost his mic. during the first run. It’s a refreshingly intimate, relaxed and honest performance – what one might imagine Sofar Sounds aspires to provide, when not dodging paying artists and staff.

Check out Kinobe if you get the chance. Their latest release, Golden Dubs, is out now via New State Music.