Music Reviews
We Were Exploding Anyway/Heavy Sky

65daysofstatic We Were Exploding Anyway/Heavy Sky

(Monotreme) Rating - 8/10

Could 65daysofstatic be one of Britain's best kept secrets? That might be a strange thing to ask about a band with a sizeable cult following (oddly, much of which seems to be based in Eastern Europe), who have soundtracked both contemporary dance shows and BBC radio drama, but, given that they're essentially the missing link between Mogwai and Battles, you'd think that it wouldn't have taken more than a year for their last album to secure US distribution. (Of course, I might be writing all this as an attempt to justify why up to now No Ripcord hasn't featured much in the way of coverage of the band, despite sharing a hometown with them). Still, those who were patient enough to wait for this re-release of sorts do get an EP thrown in for their troubles, which, as the band don't seem to understand that EPs and albums aren't the same thing, does equate to a whole load of extra music.

Perhaps it's a bit too much extra to be honest. As the band delight in the same complicated, frantic musicianship as Battles (or, more accurately, Three Trapped Tigers who might have proved themselves to be a slightly more disciplined act on their recent debut album but do owe something of a debt to 65daysofstatic), sitting through one of their albums in one go can be a bit of an exhausting experience, which in turn makes reviewing the equivalent of two seem like a very big ask indeed. It is to their credit though that over this almost hour and a half's worth of stuff, there are very few weak links.

Looking back over the course of their career, the group have come a long way from the glitchy math/post-rock they started out with to the sophisticated techno that currently holds their interest and it's a transition that pays off in spades here, with many of the album's best moments involving the cherry-picking of the best aspects of both styles and managing to pull the combination off convincingly – such as the layers of frantic electronics and the occasional burst of Godspeed You! Black Emperor-alike apocalyptic strings that make up Mountainhead. Possibly the boldest development on We Were Exploding Anyway is the closer (and, in edited form, Heavy Sky's opener) Tiger Girl; a miniature epic infused with almost-balearic beats, which, weirdly isn't the first song that I've heard this year that instantly reminded me of Atlantic Ocean's Waterfall. (I'm sure that such connections exist more in my head than in those of the artists responsible, but it does perhaps suggest that, if the 'twenty year rule' for musical revivals is to be believed, we might well have to deal with a revival of the admirably tasteless Euro-dance sound soon.)

It would be true to say that 65daysofstatic are at their best when making big, bold splashes of sound, such as in the brutal punch of Dance Dance Dance (actually taking them up on that suggestion is not advised, even though the insistent beat does make it seem quite tempting), the almost drill 'n' bass grind of Beats Like a Helix, or the Robert Smith-featuring, cut-up, spaced-out Come to Me. When they attempt to slow down things get a bit disappointing, and in fact, quite tinny and unsubstantial, such as on the tinkly first half of Piano Fights or the general nothingness of Debutante; surely this is a cardinal sin for music that strives so hard for atmosphere and thus might suggest why they haven't quite managed to capitalise on the (unfortunate) continuing decline of Mogwai. Although, despite being formed of off-cuts, Heavy Sky actually does a much better job in this area – PX3 is almost jarringly romantic, while Pacify somehow manages to capture the sound of a bank of player pianos exploding in extremely slow motion.

While there are a few mere details that stop We Were Exploding Anyway and Heavy Sky from being quite as exciting, all-enveloping records that they initially appear to be, the records do suggest that 65daysofstatic could be the 'new favourite band' of anyone interested in music that's both intelligent and incredibly noisy. And even if what's found within doesn't quite live up to expectations, as the fairly prolific band have already moved onto new projects – a re-scoring of hippy sci-fi classic Silent Running, and a solo album from sort-of frontman Paul Wolinski – odds are that somewhere they'll offer up something worth falling completely head over heels in love with.