On a stage crammed full of four musicians and an array of instruments, Dizraeli stands at the centre, with only about a metre square of free space to perform. This does nothing to hold him back as, over the course of the night, this small space is transformed into a sonically rich and immersive environment. Dizraeli’s infectious energy spills out into the room as he moves about frantically, playing percussion on everything from a djembe to the mic stand.
Introducing his latest project The Unmaster at Redon in London last Friday, the Bristol rapper explains that its creation was an extremely personal journey for him, following him over two years through an especially trying period in his life. In particular, he mentions how the process of making The Unmaster helped overcome his own difficulties in embracing imperfection; something Dizraeli is quick to point out the humour in, considering he’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist. However, this is exactly the point that The Unmaster sets out to make: Dizraeli’s performance here takes us to a place where perfection is irrelevant. As he progresses through this album of spasmodic rhythms and eclectic sounds a method to its madness begins to emerge, a sort of order-in-disorder that conveys his music in its raw and immediate form. This is particularly apparent in the album’s single ‘Oi Oi’, which enlists an eccentric collection of samples and drum rhythms that seem equal parts method and madness; perfectly encapsulating the mental trip that his listeners are soon to embark on. Here, as elsewhere on the album, Dizraeli’s potent lyricism serves as an extension of this beautiful unhinging of sound. Riddling off phrases that feel plucked from the very depths of his consciousness, Dizraeli’s verses often wrap in on themselves with disjointed enjambment, conveying a sense of inner turmoil with such compelling musicality that it blurs the line between order and disorder yet again.
All this talk of challenging imperfections points to the very intimate creative space that The Unmaster comes from. Dizraeli mentions at the beginning of the show that this project was written almost entirely alone by him in one room in his house and this visual is powerfully conveyed on-stage. While his contagious rhythms pour throughout the venue, Dizraeli can’t help but seem slightly vulnerable as he leads us through some of his darkest moments. Looking back at the crowd, the level of immersion was palpable. With bodies contorting and swaying in all directions one could be forgiven for thinking they had walked into an experimental dance class rather than a gig in East London. This is clearly a vindication of what Diz intended this album to be. Having successfully crowd-funded for a series of music videos and a theatre show to add visual dimensions to the project, The Unmaster aims to embody performance to its fullest and it is a resounding success to see the crowd follow him into his wacky world of movement and sound so willingly.
While still very much the familiar Dizraeli that we all know and love—that “weird guy playing the djembe” releasing primal surges of energy—this album feels like a maturation in his artistry. Dizraeli has never shied away from personal subjects in his music but here he appears to confront his own psyche more confidently than ever before. Watching him deal with a light-hearted heckler that night (“I would have paid £20 for this!”/ “You got punked”) it was hard not to feel in awe of the man. From the moment he stepped on stage, he exuded an effortless honesty in all aspects of his performance, whether he be riddling off lyrics, playing one of his various percussion instruments or channelling the music through his very movements. This latest chapter in Dizraeli’s career feels genuinely special, with a new cohort of instrumentalists and a creative maturity that is an outright spectacle to witness. Be sure not to miss the release of The Unmaster this August but for the full experience, keep an eye out for announcements on his upcoming tour.
You can catch Dizraeli with his band this summer at Boomtown, Shambala and Larmer Tree and more. The Unmaster is set for release this August, with a full UK and European tour to follow. Check our feature on Dizraeli’s story so far here.
Photos by Katarzyna Boreq