65 Days Of Static/Thought Forms
Marble Factory, Bristol
15th Nov 2016
After a month touring European continent together, 65 Days Of Static and Thought Forms bring the Post-Rock caravan to the West Country with it’s autumnal drizzle. Our overcoats may be wet and forlorn but our minds are in a state of excitement at the prospects of tonight’s show at the slightly smelly and damp Marble Factory, which is definitely one of Bristol’s better venues to see bands perform despite it’s concrete simplicity.
This is homecoming for support band Thought Forms as this is where they reside most of the year when not touring. As one of Invada Records earliest signings (Geoff Barrow of Portishead’s label), Thought Forms have toured the world in support of Portishead – an incredible opportunity that has helped them no end in developing into the formidable band we have here today. Their brand new album, ‘Songs About Drowning’ is a culmination of years of focus and development the band have worked incredibly hard to create. It is without doubt their finest work and will surely peak the interest of a potentially wider audience for them hopefully. They certainly deserve it.
Five of the seven song set are from the new album with the addition of ‘Landing’ and the inordinately loud and penetrating instrumental track, ‘Burn Me Clean’ from their 2013 album, ‘Ghost Mountain’. The tempos and slow and driving, the bass is low and fuzzy especially on opener, ‘Woolf Music’ which sounds like Goat on Codeine rather than their preferred psychedelics. The spectre of Sonic Youth is certainly strong on the next song, ‘Missouri’, as it is for much of their catalogue, but Thought Forms have enough of their own dynamic to make it an influence and not a burden. The new songs are more intoxicating than their older material partly I believe, because of the addition of Bassist Jim Barr (Get The Blessing, Portishead) who produced and recorded the album. Although Jim played on the album, Bass duties tonight and for this tour are being handled by Mardt Clancy of fellow Bristol band, Vena Cava.
Two of my favourite tracks off the new album ‘The Bridge’ and ‘The Lake’ sound incredible through the massive PA tonight. ‘The Bridge’ with it’s thrashing, visceral melody and arresting vocals from Singer/Guitarist Charlie Romijn. ‘The Lake’ with the doubling of vocals of Romijn and the band’s other Singer/Guitarist Deej Dharwal as well as it’s rising and falling tempo, masterfully handled by Drummer Guy Metcalfe. The last song of the set is the aforementioned, ‘Burn Me Clean’ which sees them turn up the bass frequencies to core shaking levels whilst the band take matters in a far more experimental direction. It’s an astounding finale that would be hard to follow. Unless of course you’re manic creative madmen like 65 Days Of Static.
It’s been 3 years since I saw these guys utterly own the headline slot at Arctangent’s inaugural 2013 festival, just before they released their sixth album, ‘Wild Light’. Their new album or to be more precise, soundtrack for the video game, No Man’s Sky is another masterful stroke proving how deft the band are at melding the Rock and Electronic musical worlds. Tonight’s packed out show is proof that their popularity is far from waning, and as soon as they take the stage with opening track, ‘Monolith’ the crowd are hooked in to the groove.
Old favourites such as the drum-heavy ‘Crash Tactics’ and unstoppable ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ make an early appearance, with each member giving it one hundred and ten percent in creating an utterly spellbinding performance that get almost every head in the house bobbing in unison. It’s new tracks such as ‘Asimov’ and ‘Supermoon’ however that hit the hardest for me, showing off those epic songwriting chops. Unforgettable melodies and breakneck beats come thick and fast building to gigantic breakdowns and heady moments that soar and explode into spine-tingling finales.
The influence of the mighty Aphex Twin and the soundtrack work of John Carpenter is evident within the new album as much as most of the band’s back catalogue, and it’s tracks such as ‘Sleepwalk City’ and The Undertow’ that show a subtler side to the band. It’s not all intense, there are plenty of moments of undeniable cinematic beauty that balance the dynamic. And then those moments are always superseded by the balls to the wall energy of tracks such as the dramatically relentless, ‘Radio Protector’ and encore finale of, ‘I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood’. Set closer, ‘Debutante’ from their 2010 album, ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ leaves me spent with the flowing emotion and energy of the night. Until the next time.
Check out Thought Forms website here http://www.thought-forms.co.uk/
Check out 65 Days Of Static website here https://store.65daysofstatic.com/
All words by Philip Allen. More work by Philip can be found in his Louder Than War archive.
All photos by Michael Brumby. https://michaelbrumbyphotography.wordpress.com/