Night number two of Manimal Vinyl's Echo residency began with its feet planted on the ground and worked its way up the body. Loving Thunder's loud metal-ish music loosened toes, Rainbow Arabia rapped knees using tropical percussion, Jessica 6 sent blood rushing to the pelvis, and then We Are The World cracked heads open and massaged the wet brain underneath.
One might suspect Manimal owner Paul Beahan owns a high-powered magnet for strange, fearless music, or receives radio transmissions from outer space that tell him where to find aliens and put them on his record label. How else to explain that We Are The World, Rainbow Arabia, and label-mates Hecuba landed on the Los Angeles scene around the same time a year and a half ago?
Let's trace Manimal Vinyl's origin to 2007. Its first release was a Chapin Sisters & Winter Flowers super colorful split LP. On one side, three ethereal ladies soaring to harmonic heavens and on the other, bohemian neo-Renaissance music. Then came Bat For Lashes' Fur & Gold and the Madonna tribute album Through The Wilderness. Beahan has since followed two tracks: cultivating folky weirdness, and seeking descendants of Kate Bush & Siouxsie Sioux.
Last night, the post-punk pop was in full effect. Rainbow Arabia revealed material the band's recording for an upcoming album. Tiffany Preston stepped away from her percussion station for "I'm In Love With The World" and danced around the stage, repeating the words, increasing excitement as vowels lingered on her lips. The beats came back in focus on songs from Kabukimono and The Basta. Her Betty Boop voice invented a new language as husband Danny paired Arabian desert and Caribbean steel riffs on his microtonal keyboards. The music was like a global wine and cheese pairing that leaves you buzzing and warm.
(Jessica 6 earlier in the week at La Cita)
While Rainbow Arabia generated some solo dancing, Jessica 6 got people rubbing hips on each other. This is the second time singer Nomi Ruiz has graced the Echo stage. Last year she visited with Andy Butler's Hercules & Love Affair, and a few studio musicians who worked on that project have joined her as Jessica 6. With a panty-line so high it almost reached her belly-button, Ruiz shook her Madonna lingerie-leotard and belted over romantic disco numbers. Her icon-status in the transgender community made her "famous," but man, woman, porpoise, or bird, who cares, Nomi was born for the stage.
Wrapping up the evening, We Are The World taught the audience a lesson about haunted aerobics. Dark lights silhouetted their body contours as the foursome bent, slid, reeled and plunged. They performed faceless, skinless, beyond the crypt where ghosts convene for philosophical discussions and witches toss eye of newt and tongue of dog in a bubbling cauldron. Not about to hog the goods, We Are The World tips the pot over so everyone can taste its frothy recipe (even if they can't follow the mind-numbing dance routine).