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THIS CAT IS A LANDMINE
:: 65 Days Of Static :: Thai Bride :: The Lucida Console ::
26 November 2004 / Cuba Café / Manchester
By CA

What am I doing in Cuba Cafe? Yes, as in the seedy little hole where apparently there are sometimes exotic ladies dancing. Not tonight there aren't, thankfully, although it probably has the highest number of ridiculous things suspended from the ceiling of anywhere I've watched a band this year. Yes, it's the latest gig venue in town, due to V-Man's admirable attitude that if there is space to set a PA up somewhere you can put a gig on, and the cheaper (and scuzzier) the venue the cheaper the gig. Originally scheduled for the equally rough Gullivers, then briefly Dry Bar, it's been an entertaining treasure hunt just getting this far...

On a pay day binge in Piccadilly Records a few months back, I found an unknown quantity in my hand. The album was entitled "The Fall of Math", the artist 65 Days of Static. The name meant nothing to me, but gripped by a strange compulsion I decided that whatever it was like I had definitely spent a tenner on worse things, and bought it. One of the most innovative and remarkable things I have ever heard and easily my nominee for album of the year, it's rarely been out of my stereo since. Little did I know (hardly ever being in to hear it) that John Peel was also a fan, calling them in for a session sadly only completed after his death. So yeah, slightly high expectations for this one... but with the usual V-Man promotion value for money, there's some supports to go first.

Now the history books tell us grunge killed off shoegazing. Imagine if it hadn't, but instead had impregnated it. Halifax's The Lucida Console are that bastard offspring, fed through the blender of post-rock and laced with a few interesting tape samples. They're heavy, certainly, but not content to tread the dullard emo path that seems de rigeur for many of today's teen rockers. Songs head off in several different directions, the shirtless drummer changes tack every time you think you know where you are and the singer seems gloriously unacquainted with the concept of a tune, and rather unconcerned about it. Who needs notes anyway? None of them look a day over 19, they make an impenetrably chaotic noise, and are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

A little older are the evening's local draw Thai Bride. After the heavier guitars of the first couple of gigs this seems to be a bit of a move back towards indie-land sound wise - which is where Ricky's tales of everyday life with a twist will find a rather more appreciative audience. "I'm no stand-up comic." he muses at one point when he realises his extended between-song ramble needs pulling back on track, but there are more laughs in a Thai Bride set than most half-hour prime-time sitcoms. The already near-legendary urinal song goes down a storm and "Squalid House" is great upbeat power pop with sentiments most of us can identify with. Another track is about "psycho girlfriends - you know, fine for the first couple of weeks and then they start to go crazy" at which point a young lady in the audience assures the man with her that she's not like that. Few bands these days demand you listen to their lyrics, but without them Thai Bride would be a lot less essential.

Finally the moment I've been waiting for. And they look so normal... the frontman's voluminous hair and bulging eyes may well imply he's spent slightly too long wired up to the mains, but the other blokes could be pretty much any indie band. Not a traditional post-rock nautical beard in sight. Just four men, a sequencer and no limits. Oh, and no vocals. The microphone exists largely to make oblique addresses to the crowd. "Our singer died.... of mediocrity", he deadpans. Unlikely the rest will join him any time soon, anyway. The set's mostly drawn from the album, a delightful collection of daft titles which means I'm going to have to tell you it was a brilliant version of "This Cat Is A Landmine"... it was, anyway. The foursome play along seamlessly to a sequencer which provides not so much backing as flavourings; electronic percussion and samples from the outer edge of somewhere. New single "Retreat" Retreat!" builds from a vague but intriguing start to almost blow the speakers, its Hope-Of-The-States-only-bigger swelling coda accompanied by both guitarists and bassist hammering hard at their strings with palms and fists. And that they were able not only to recreate live but to enhance the genre-mashing album highlight "Install A Beak In The Heart That Clucks Time In Arabic" (no, I am not making this up) - the drum'n'bass meets Jesus and Mary Chain meets barely-heard long wave radio signals intro, the sound of metal scraping on metal, the sheer size of it - was nothing short of outstanding. They're crawling round the floor now, sort of trying to stabilise the unintentionally wandering drumkit whilst lying in their amazing noise. They finish on an older track, "Play Nice Kids", which is no less strange and beautiful than the current material.

How much are they taking the piss? I have no idea. But what I do know is that the last band I thought that about, I’ve been to see 53 times in just over two years…I foresee many days of static to come, and I’m looking forward to it.


Resources:
65 Days of Static
Thai Bride

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