At the moment it appears that the post-punk outfit Squid can do no wrong. Since 2016 they have released a slew of singles, tracks and EPs that set them apart from their peers. Earlier in the year they announced they had signed to Warp Records and released the captivating ‘Sludge/Broadcaster’ 10” single. This was followed by the charity single ‘Natural Resources’; proceeds went to the East Bristol Food Bank. Then they announced they were starting their own label INK. The name of the label is just as clever as the music it releases. Squids use their ink as a defence mechanism. It helps creates a disturbance allowing them a few moments to shoot off into the gloomy depths of the sea. The band are using the label for their solo releases. The first offering is from guitarist Anton Pearson.
Opening track ‘Coal’ tells you everything you need to know about ‘It’s Time for Us All to Leave Now’. The synths are radiant in their simplicity, but there are also chock full of delectable melodies and rhythms. There are field recordings that are layered to give ‘Coal’ extra texture, but Pearson also lets them just play out too. The outro where the sound of rain skews into the sound of coal burning feels like the audio equivalent of MC Escher’s seminal Metamorphosis painting. Scratch that, the whole song is. How it starts off with gently pulsating synths and ends with the sound of a fire, without it sounding jarring or out of place is sublime. The use of field recordings is the EP’s master stroke. This ground the recordings in our reality. They aren’t just something concocted in a studio. They feel real. They breath and in ‘Coal’, or instance, they burn white hot.
‘In a Box’ is the most captivating song on the EP. Here Pearson layers different melodies to create something phosphorescent. As the tones undulate, they flash gracefully in and out, much like how squids swim in the wild, using their colour changing ability to create lurid patterns in the murky depths. As ‘In a Box’ meanders along there is no sense of urgency. No need to rush to the end. It takes it times and explores the outcome of each melody. This is clever stuff. What’s even better is it sounds amazing. In just over six minutes Pearson manages to take you out of yourself, your daily humdrum, and transport you something else. Something where time fades away and the tangibility of conventional song writing doesn’t matter.
At its heart ‘It’s Time for Us All to Leave Now’ is an exercise in restraint. There are moments when Pearson could have really ramped things up. Gone full bore and created a wall of searing synths, but he doesn’t. Instead, he crafts ornate soundscapes that are filled with delicate motifs, while packing a punch. The second the main drone kicks in during ‘A47DM’ is one of the standout moments on the EP. It is repetitive, as all good drones should be, but it is underpinned by a deep bassline and a hypnotic melody. These elevates the song from a simple synth workout to something else.
‘It’s Time for Us All to Leave Now’ is the first release on INK. Rumour has it that there are more in the pipeline. And hopefully there are. Whether they reach the richness and tranquillity of ‘It’s Time for Us All to Leave’ will remain to be heard. One thing is for certain, however, like the band, INK is definitely one to watch.