SK Shlomo: Surrender
- Henry Northmore
- 8 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Astounding musicianship in part gig, part confessional
SK Shlomo has won numerous awards for this beatboxing and looping and in this part gig, part confessional, the world class beatboxer opens up about his struggles with mental health. Running sounds through his homemade mish mash of found gadgets and hi-tech machinery that he calls The Beast, his skills are undeniable. He samples and loops himself and the audience to breathtaking effect, multi-layering his vocal percussion with singing, piano riffs and beats to create new songs and vocal effects.
The range of weird and wonderful beats and breaks he can produce orally are astounding (there's a bass drop that stuns the crowd). His recreation of a North London Arabic party, a one man Prodigy and the final track that turns audience member's shouts into a blistering techno track are phenomenal.
It's an unexpected medium for a deeply personal show. Shlomo was at the top of his game, touring the globe, working with Björk, Damon Albarn and Ed Sheeran. But two years ago he withdrew from public life. The writing and recording process for his debut solo album opened up some unexpected memories and insecurities.
Some of the details are a bit vague but the pressure of public scrutiny, online abuse and childhood trauma led to depression and thoughts of suicide. It was reaching out and seeking help that saved him and became the foundation for his first album Surrender.
It's important that people stand up and speak about mental health, and while it might sound trite, it's a reminder of the power of talking to others and admitting that it's ok not to be ok. What could be a depressing show, by the end feels hugely positive and watching Shlomo's astounding beatbox and looping skills as he creates tracks from nothing is a joy to behold.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 23 Aug (not 12), 10.10pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£9.50–£11.50).