Words & Images by James Birchall
65daysofstatic have for a few years now been a band at the sidelines of my music selection, often suggested to me by spotify and YouTube due to my similar choices in music such as Godspeed you! Back Emperor and Explosions in the sky. I had up until the evening of the gig not given them a committed listen outside of the odd one off. I expected to like them and flicking through their back catalogue on the train over to the venue I found myself getting more and more anxious to hear them live.
The venue was the Islington Assembly, a Beautiful Grade II listed building built in 1929. Lengthy drapes and ornate paneling and coving provided the perfect backdrop for the growing crowd. The lights dropped; silencing the chatter.
I hadn’t expected a warm up act as there was none listed on the website or posters. But always one to support the support act I was interested to hear them play. What followed surprised me; I have always strongly believed that Post-rock as a rule would be spoilt by lyrics or even vocals, but the wall of sound that was created was intoxicating, overwhelming and beautiful. That said the lyrics were certainly not the focus as they were low down in the mix and often consisted of long drawn out shouts or screams down the microphone during the songs crescendo. After pausing briefly to introduce themselves as Thought Forms they spoke about their anxieties surrounding the logistics of touring around Europe in a post-Brexit world and that they hoped it would still be as simple as it currently is. Next they introduced their new album ‘Songs About Drowning’ and finished the set off with explosive songs evoking images in my mind of crashing waves and the unstable open ocean. After they left the stage my ears were ringing akin to having ears full of water after time spent underwater.
Waiting for The headline act I decided to get a drink, whilst waiting at the bar I began to listen to the music they were playing between bands expecting your usual mixtape of similar music perhaps selected by the band. Instead I heard pop songs, Katy Perry etc and I rolled my eyes about the misjudgment of the room made by the venue, the band hadn’t selected any music so therefore they must just be playing your standard pop music!
Walking back to the press pit something jarring happened in the music, one lyric was repeating “sixty five…sixty five….sixxxtttyy fiiiveeee” and then static played and another song started this time it was an old school hip hop track by NAS and this is when I noticed the genius of what was happening . What I had initially thought was over enthusiastic mixing by the house DJ was actually a mixtape of songs all containing the lyric “sixty five” and when the song reached that point static would play and the next would start. It grew in volume until there was nothing but static, the lights dimmed again and the band calmly walked onto the stage.
Deep chest shaking synths greeted my ears, and due to the fact I was leaning on the subwoofer stack to take photographs, my body too. Square waves that wouldn’t be out of place in an old school bassline track. The crowd cheered pushing forwards slightly as a familiar riff punched through the synths. As the song built the lights began to brighten, and the room grew more energetic and feverish. What followed was an eclectic mix of soft piano segments interjected by frantic and yearning buildups into supernova like climaxes. At times certain members of the band would be punching their guitar, they seemed incredibly emotional as if this process was painful yet cathartic for them. During a short pause from the noise the band asked if they “want something noisy or something quiet” the crowd replied with a resounding “noisy!”. The lead guitarist replied with “Well, with evil fucks running the world what else can we do but make some noise” and with that the stage exploded into noise once more. The band fell back into a trance; I put away my camera, climbed over the barrier and decided to join them within it.
I left the building and went back into the cold London air, but I felt that it had been cathartic for me too. It’s impossible to listen to music of this genre without filling the gaps where there would be lyrics with your own narrative and emotions., and whilst that can be painful I certainly travelled home feeling lighter.