Squid’s surprisingly sophisticated sensational sounds
Supporting SQUID tonight at the De La war Pavilion are Laundromat.
And right from the get-go those crushed 50’s RKO vocals provide the perfect foil for the band’s discordant – but somehow pleasant – ‘plonks’.
‘Plonks.’ Not a word I’d ever have normally associated with or even considered using in the context of a positive gig review. Bit, somehow, Laundromat seem to have mastered the art of the ‘plonk’ and raised it to an artform,
Everyone in the band is doing his own thing – and some of it is very odd indeed. But weirdly it’s all holding together.
Frankly it’s more than a little bit disturbing that I actually seem to get this…or maybe I just don’t.
Describing Laundromat is tough because it almost feels as if half the band are playing backwards…and the rest are playing sideways.
So rather than struggling with references to try and explain how this song by Laundromat sounds like so-and-so, or how that little riff was reminiscent of that-band, let’s just leave it here.
Laundromat are perhaps not totally unique – but they are far enough away from any mainstream acts that they may as well be applauded for doing broadly speaking their own thing.
And speaking of doing their own thing … here comes SQUID, with a stop/start… synchronised jazz vibe that’s fundamentally messed up and somehow artfully infused with the cantankerous sounds of an industrial wasteland.
Bumping off the sides of tonality, Squid’s new material is both confident and unlikely.
Musically speaking this is so far beyond the years of the band members. Songs glide gently into sci-fi wobbles and farts, and, despite the challenging nature of what our ears are being presented with, it all makes a weird amount of sense.
Then. Wallop! – here comes the horn section out of nowhere…followed by a pounding electro drum rhythm that knocks both band members and audience members into immediate submission.
Between songs – and even during a few – band members scurry around the stage from instrument to instrument, looking to create a constantly shifting soundscape.
Then. BANG (again). Here comes the rocky wig-out number, with those distinctive vocals that are just as at home in a sub-metal style as they are echoing the jazz greats of yesteryear.
And then, suddenly, everything is percussion and howling pedal effects…a sort of homage to The Old Grey Whistle Test and, within seconds, much more than a nod towards the legendary Gong.
How do we describe SQUID’s latest foray into live territory?
A jam session made from premium grade fruits?
Elemental world music rooted in the streets?
What’s for sure is that this whole new direction is nothing less than a deliberate attempt to try and avoid BBC 6-music airplay on anything other than the Freakzone playlist.
And it’s a pretty safe bet that when a band’s repertoire rips up elements of The Fall, Talking Heads and CAN they’re not looking at commercial record sales in the current chart climate to boost their careers.
This is a good bet if, for no other reason, than the fact that trying to pigeon hole SQUID is like trying to make sense out of a phrase like ‘prog-indie-metal-electro-jazz’.
It just doesn’t compute – until you hear it for yourself.
And it’s safe to say to say that SQUID kept me interested. And guessing…all night long.
Gentle and forlorn ballads rub shoulders with angry spoken word that lives a precarious life suspended over a kick/snare/synth combo that’s reminiscent of something cast out from The Wall by Pink Floyd for being ‘too odd’.
There has been (and will be again) a time when this is stadium music…
It is epic stuff…if not now, then 20 years ago, or 20 years from now. Or maybe…today?