Mura Masa ft Bonzai and Fliss @ 02 Academy, Bristol, 18/10/2017

Mura MasaA Perspex keyboard stand sits affront the O2 stage surrounded by a drum kit, guitar, drum pad, more keyboards, you name it. In most cases, you’d assume a band is about to perform - but not tonight. It’s multi-instrumentalist and producer, Alex Curran aka Mura Masa.

It seems like it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Mura Masa. Having started on Soundcloud, this year he’s released a self-produced debut with some of the biggest names in the UK. Damon Albarn, NAO, Charli XCX, Christine and The Queens, A$AP Rocky; the list goes on. Famed for finding inspiration on the internet and fitting the bedroom producer profile to a tee, he escaped the bedroom into multi-cultural London. Now, he’s got a sell-out tour lined up for the year.

His mash-up of sounds, textures, and cultures, he describes, is his own reflection on London in his self-titled release. You’d think the genre-less and boundlessness tapestry to Mura Masa’s framework would create a jumpy, glitchy set in a live setting. But it’s seamless with Alex Curran tying every track together. Moving between skipping beats and trap to verging on drum and chest-vibrating bass changes the pace at every track. Fast, electric and energetic, the crowd jumps to every steel pan bang.

Bonzai makes a guest appearance for their track together, “Nuggets” with a bouncy melody and getup. She and vocalist Fliss slip right into the place of NAO, Charli XCX and Héloïse Letissier aka Christine and the Queens, adding a new dynamic to the recorded material.

The fast-paced, vibrant energy of the set reaches a surprising lull in the middle of the performance. “Who’s It Gonna B?” shifts the onus and focus onto the vocals of Fliss rather than A. K. Paul on the recorded version, which feels slightly disjointed and it’s noticed by the crowd. The track, with a very Jamie xx inspired soundscape, doesn’t halt the vigour for long though as “What If I Go?” picks the energy right back up.

Mura Masa had to return for an encore judging by the crowd’s reaction. And he slows the evening right down with short number “give me The ground” with James Blake-esque vocals from himself. “Blu” follows up, as probably the best track from his latest album. Featuring Damon Albarn on the album, Mura Masa finally shines a light on himself. Taking up the microphone and in the spotlight, the track is an evening highlight. The momentary pause for not always enjoying everything, feeling misunderstood and low, the blue lighting and the slow moment is a welcome breather.

It’s all we need, we’ve had the moment. Bonzai and Fliss erupt back onto the stage in a knee-jerk reaction for the evening’s closer, “Firefly”; the track everyone is waiting for. It feels like an exciting time for Mura Masa, with already a huge collective of collaborations under his belt. But what’s more exciting is his own talent. Shifting the focus onto himself for his self-produced debut has definitely paid off. If 2017 was Mura Masa’s year, I’m looking forward to 2018.

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