SXSW Showcase Reviews
Reviewed by Adam Schragin, Fri., March 16, 2012
White NinjaSpeakeasy Kabaret, Friday, March 16
Nothing about Mexico City's White Ninja speaks to the obvious. So it makes sense the band played in the red, dimmed recesses of a club that's one part dance hall and two parts eerie grotto. The sacrificial lambs at this showcase, the quartet played first and battled a fickle sound system and the early hour with an unspooling and happily bent set of under-the-floorboards funk and cyclic, almost hypnotic electronica. Primarily the project of Leo Marz, who played prerecorded loops and beats, the sound was anchored by three other musicians on bass, drums, keys, and echoey vocals, with the latter mostly lost somewhere in the high end of the sound spectrum. Despite the muddled mix, Ninja's back-end approach to dance wasn't lost on the small crowd; the angular hooks cut with a wash of repetitive synth – Franz Ferdinand collaborating with the Field maybe. White Ninja grooved without insulting the audience or losing them with self-indulgent knob-twittering. Some moments lock-stepped into a cumbia carnival ride, while other moments felt more disco Mexicano. A recording project with promise, its live incarnation benefits from the same eagerness to innovate.