Ivo Dimchev is talking through gritted teeth,his lips pulled back into a snarl. ‘If you want me to be your mother…’ he repeats, every word somersaulting off his lips. Dressed in shorts and glittering belt, his shirt open to the waist, and with a bad ‘curtains’ hair-do, he looks like a member of a 90s boy band. In fact, singing is predominantly what Dimchev does these days, dirtying-up pop culture with original songs and wryly intelligent, wildly creative music videos, even infiltrating the banal world of the X Factor talent show this year.
Tonight he revisits his 2009 work Som Faves for a buzzing, expectant crowd. The vibe is amateur and chaotic, but I catch myself double-taking continually – technical accomplishment is evident everywhere.
In a hilarious monologue to a wooden cat who’s on hunger strike, Dimchev builds his frustration to eye-popping intensity, every sinew strained and quivering with rage. The terrible hair-do turns out to be a wig. Dimchev flips it over and wears it as a bad-ass Mohican. A technical sound fault is brilliantly incorporated into the apparent madness, adding to the anything-could-happen atmosphere. Vocally he’s a virtuoso, with incredible breath control and the range of a counter-tenor. The bizarre and meandering lyrics to his songs are a deliberate juxtaposition to his formal prowess.
For his audacious finale, Dimchev jabs a needle into his arm, draws his own blood into a syringe and squirts it onto his face, all whilst singing, fulfilling the unnerving ditty about ‘blood on your face’ that he’s sung several times during the piece. It is an astonishing ending to what has felt like a physical essay on form and content, in which Dimchev succeeds in making sense of them both while declaring that neither of them have to make any sense at all.