Necessity, it is mooted, is the mother of Invention.
The guitar innovator Les Paul shattered his elbow in a car accident in 1948. Amputation was an option, the doctors in Oklahoma told him. Paul was having none of it. He flew to Los Angeles and instructed surgeons to fix his elbow at a specific angle - almost 90 degrees - so he could hold and pick his guitar. Recovery was slow but he got there.
Last night, I witnessed the fruits of another accident.
It is not usual for me to answer "French Prog" when asked what sort of band I saw the previous night. Nor is it commonplace for anyone to say "Show of Hands meets Rush at a Peter Gabriel concert." But that's what I said this morning to understandably quizzical looks from my colleague.
"Look up the band - they're called Lazuli," I finished and made headway into a rather badly constructed sausage sandwich.
Singing entirely in French, which turned out to be neither comical nor irksome, Lazuli wove soundscapes of mixed heritage ably assisted by an excellent desk engineer. The only time Soho's Borderline has ever produced anything other then magnificent sound was in 2008, when I played there. Last night, the sound engineer had to contend with a veritable mini orchestra comprising of two guitars, drums, triggered loops with extra percussion, a keyboard bass part, a marimba, a mandolin, a French horn and a Leode. That's right, a Leode. More of this anon.
He coped admirably with the mix and allowed Lazuli's layered sonic tapestries and dynamic arrangements to thrive, accompanied by some delightfully theatrical lighting, befitting entirely the shifting moods of the pieces.
The only thing I would have desired was a little more of Dominique Leonetti's voice, which, treble heavy and reminiscent of Rush's Geddy Lee, cut through the swirls and cascades of the 5-piece's thoughtful tracks.
The other Leonetti brother, Claude, had his own terrible accident in 1986. This time it was a motorcycle crash. The young guitarist lost the use of his left arm - a disaster for anyone; anathema to an instrumentalist. In a dream, a vision came to him, he says. He woke and drew sketches of the instrument he had seen in his sleep. Soon, with the aid of a designer, the Leode - a bizarre hybrid of a guitar, a synthesizer, a melodic saw and a Martenau wave - was born. Claude sits on a stool and lets the strange beast sing through the tracks, winding tone-shifting and often folk-driven modes through the music. The frontmen - the two brothers and Lead guitarist Generic Byar - are themselves bewitched by their sound and rock from side to side with their high ponytails and Salafist-chic facial hair and apparel.
You'd almost think there is too much going on but Lazuli are careful with their writing and the layers seldom clash.