Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum
- Joe McManus
- 14 August 2017
Material doesn't do justice to the ability of either performer
Tom Thum, the beatboxer who's amassed 59 million views of his TED Talk, has an incredible ability in instrumental mimicry, articulation and range. Two songs in, Thum is given the room to flex his muscles and it's jaw-dropping. First running through unthinkable bass and falsetto 'tests', he moves on to the unmistakable crackle of a 78 before delivering a flurry of beats – drum and bass, techno, bassline and dubstep.
The problem being that this is a break in the middle of the otherwise pedestrian 'Feet to Floor', a jazzy, hip hop-influenced tune to which he and Jamie MacDowell return, but which goes nowhere. This forms the template for a frequently frustrating hour. Too often, Thum is relegated to providing rudimentary drum machine backing to MacDowell's tawdry Ed Sheeran-esque songwriting.
Thum's solo turn, 'Ratchet Face', is the high point, using loops to progressively build a dubstep track. It's not new territory for beatboxing, but it's seldom done so musically; his flawless harmonies and drones preceding a thunderous crescendo.
MacDowell is a talented guitarist, showing some tasteful flamenco phrasing in their re-writing of Bill Withers' 'Grandma's Hands'. Yet his material doesn't do justice to the ability of either performer, and struggles to hold the attention.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 20 Aug, 8pm, £12--£14.