Post-rock is a dirty word. Two words in fact, hyphenated. Two words used to lazily describe any music with distorted guitars and no vocals. Two words that cover everything from Mogwai pretending to be Errors to a karaoke ready version of the internationally famous The Radioheads song The Creep. If this particular evening was being promoted as a “post-rock night” while the infamous shit-eating Monto were running the Water Rats, I’d rather have pushed my finger into my eyeball until it crumpled than be in the same postcode. Luckily for me, Monto are long gone, and with Goodsouls behind the scenes together with AK/DK inexplicably sandwiched between these two soundtrack friendly men, I had no choice but to attend.
Having recently released their second album This State Is Conscious, this show should have been a celebration for Those Amongst Us Are Wolves. Instead, with the recent departure of Joshua Neal Bate whose synths, keys and production gave TAUAW exciting depth and variation they are instead challenged with a sudden redefinition as a three piece. Unfortunately for those in attendance, the chosen approach seems to be to pretend as though Joshua’s parts were never there. To act as though these songs were always meant to be performed a three piece and do nothing but provide a disservice to some of the interesting work they were exploring as a four piece. Recorded, tracks like Placebo Affects showed the band expanding beyond variations in tinkling guitar lines to explore ambient dynamics that gives them greater moments of contrast and less predictability. This streamlined incarnation is not helped with a bass and cymbal heavy mix that makes it difficult to lose yourself to Mark Oliver’s reverb soaked guitar lines as their songs pivot around. Almost apologetically Mark announces the departure of Joshua before the last song begins, citing falling in love as the reason. “What a twat” came the response from the audience to which Chris O’Connell’s response of “I see you can read between the lines” spoke volumes. It is a shame to have caught the band live for the first time under these circumstances and you wonder whether they’ve had time to truly think through what their next steps are with promotional dates following their album launch. I hope for their sakes they manage to come back stronger from this.
AK/DK are an absolute joy live. Two drummers, two playgrounds of synths and a shit load of looping, effects, and enthusiasm could just collapse into a messy unstructured wankfest in the hands of lesser men. Instead, Ed Chivers and Graham Sowerby create something so unique, so skilled yet appearing effortless and perhaps most importantly, so fun that you don’t know whether to get down or stare at them slack jawed in awe. Utilising twin Kaoss Pads and an array of other gadgets to great affect gives them the freedom for improvisation even with the restrictions of numbers, even putting it to an audience vote to decide whether to play a song in A or the more jovial C. Their influences are vast and varied, with elements of latter Battles, Trans Am, Can, Kraftwerk, Dan Deacon and others can be heard amongst their noise and space, a glorious list to draw from. Their recent debut album which led on from a series of cassette releases (yes, they’re from Brighton) proves that this band are far greater than novelty alone. Whether it’s the incessant groove of Maxwell’s Waves or the future beeps of Seq and You Shall Find (which didn’t make an appearance this evening), they have rightly taken their time to commit these tracks to recording for quality assurance. They slyly incorporate the Channel 4 news theme into a track as a critique on the low voting turnout for the recent local elections which became clear when dryly explained by Graham, eyes piercing into the audience, shooting shame beams indiscriminately. Such is the affect to instantly fall in love with them when in the presence of their music, they were perfectly matched as Damo Suzuki’s backing band for a memorable show and hand-picked to support the Dandy Warhols on a European tour and now Fujiya & Miyagi. I could spout shit about how much I love this pair for hours, but when it boils down to it, this is a band that needs to be seen live by everybody today and every day.
Last up are Codes In The Clouds who bring us back to the land of marching snares, clean, trebly, reverb drenched guitar lines, a lack of vocals and the perfect ability to soundtrack a TV show such as Friday Night Lights. The Explosions In The Sky influences are obvious from the forefront, though despite how cynical you want to be about the lack of originality in music they make there is something magnificent about hearing it live belted out live. Like a comfort blanket, a chat with an old friend or maybe more cynically, like aural MSG, these men know how to write songs which promote an unchallenging yet engaging and soothing emotional response. Those words could fill you with excitement, they could make you punch yourself in the face, but when faced with such a lovable bunch (many cheeks I wanted to pinch) it’s hard not to get drawn in and wish the show would never end. For a band who released a remixes album between their debut and its follow up, it’s a shame that they didn’t follow the lead of someone like HEALTH to adopt ideas from their peers to try out new things, particularly when names like the glorious Nils Frahm are involved whose reinvention and ambition could have been a worthwhile inspiration. Instead the souring guitars find new notes to play, and much like a questionable kebab, the satisfaction is huge at the time though very different in the light of the next day. Whether to match the emotion of a particular Greys Anatomy episode I have no doubt they’ve been featured in, or to visualise your own place in an American drama while they soundtrack it on a stage in front of you, this band does what it does very well in its place. A predictable place, a comfortable place, a safe place.