65daysofstatic are not usually ones for looking back. With each release their concoction of blitzing electronica and angular math rock has mutated, garnering results ranging from the high energy, beat-dominated We Were Exploding Anyway to the droning, IDM-indebted latest offering of Wild Light. However, a little bit of nostalgia never hurt anyone, and it certainly never hurts ticket sales. So, on the eve of their sold out show at London’s KOKO, where they are performing their début album The Fall of Math in full for its 10th anniversary, the Sheffield glitch merchants decided to make Southampton their dry run, performing the album for the first time ever, in front of an unwitting audience.
Initiating the proceedings were local act Science of Eight Limbs, whose brash combination of pummelling drums and bruising riffs complemented by a smattering of textured sampling and inventive looping evoked a middle ground between an instrumental Royal Blood and a gruff-and-ready form of Brontide. The unpolished nature of their music and performance was the unequivocal source of their charm; with guitarist and drummer gurning in a unified fit of joy at their wondrous creation, the performance felt less like a concert and more as if we had been given candid access to the greatest jam session of their lives. By the end of their set the audience were screeching for an encore. If it was not for 65daysofstatic being the formidable live band that they are, this Southampton two-piece would have undoubtedly stolen the show. Even still, it’s a point up for contention.
With such a difficult act to follow it was a given that post-rock trio Thought Forms were going to be unable to maintain the momentum that had been generated by the former’s unexpected brilliance. Whilst their meld of God Is an Astronaut-style texture-building and ethereal female vocals was most certainly competent, their songs never had any defining moments which made them discernible from the plethora of bands of that ilk. The overall feeling was one of lacklustre, the band failing to make a notable impact through either their song-writing or their awkward, introverted performance. In short, their set was the audio equivalent of being stuck in suspended animation for 40 minutes; the audience numbed by the sensation of abject indifference.
Despite the minor blip, things soon returned to form with the emergence of headliners, 65daysofstatic. Blasting immediately in to the glitchy, synth-driven opener of The Fall of Math, ‘Another Code Against the Gone‘ directly followed by the more organic, slow-building ‘Install a Beak in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic‘ it becomes incredibly apparent just how talented the post-rock legends are. With each skipping drum beat, each computerized crackle, each bitcrushed woomph being recreated live in front of our very astonished eyes, it makes you fully realise that The Fall of Math may very well be the most sonically nuanced album since Kid A; an aural assimilation of the human soul and the mechanised heart of modern life, interacting with each other intimately to create a soundscape that is equally warm yet unforgiving, cold yet hopeful, chaotic yet beautiful. The flurry of emotions are perfectly encapsulated on ‘Retreat! Retreat!‘; as the guitars soar and the MIDI lines whirl together, entwined in a waltz of optimism and jubilation.
With band members moving from synth to guitar to synth again in the breadth of a single song they display a devotion to reproduce their masterpiece in the most honest manner possible. The group could have easily slapped the more experimental, IDM-lead tracks over the PA and saved themselves a great deal of work learning songs that they have never played in their career, however this determination to push themselves causes the live performance to excel, with each click and permutation being breathed a full-bodied life.
By the time of the album’s crescendoing finale ‘Aren’t We All Running?’ the crowd are pleading for more, which they are duly treated to in the form of material from latest album Wild Light. Whilst perhaps not as frenzied as their earlier work it still retains many of its intricacies; from the polyrhythmic stuttering of ‘Prisms‘ to the gentle piano pattering of ‘The Undertow’, 65daysofstatic still reflect the dynamism that made their début so beloved. However, it’s the final song of the night, ‘Radio Protector‘, with its ascending piano line and anthemically-building textures that is greeted with the greatest reaction of the encore.
As guitarist Joe Shrewsbury quips “see you in another ten years” as they leave the stage, nostalgia and regression is the last thing on the mind. With The Fall of Math still sounding as mind-bendingly futuristic as it did a decade ago, and their current output feeling as fresh as ever, despite the ceremonies, 65daysofstatic are still most certainly looking forward.