Once you’ve realised that Strobes contain, amongst their number, Matt Calvert from pioneering instrumental noise merchants Three Trapped Tigers, things start to become crystal clear. Like the latter band, Strobes want to challenge you, to rip the trousers off the status quo (as in the existing state of affairs, not Francis Rossi and his cohorts – that would just be too weird) and to reach places of your brain that would make your cat do cartwheels. Even if you don’t have a cat.
Beginning with ‘Winder‘, you’re lulled into a false sense of security, as though the battery in your baby’s mobile is merely starting to lose its charge, but then, when you go to replace it, after around thirty seconds, you realise, horrified, that the batteries were fine, and that what has actually happened is that you have, inadvertently, bought your infant a toy that was manufactured by Aphex Twin after an evening snorting amphetamines in the toilets at the nearest freeform jazz club.
The next half an hour or so is spent watching the effects of such excess as the band – which also comprises Joshua Blackmore of Troyka and Squarepusher collaborator Dan Nicholls – continue to push the boundaries of what defines modern synth based jazz-rock. Immediate it is not, though I am not suggesting it would take Trout Mask Replica sized efforts of patience to fully embrace Brokespeak. On the contrary, two or three spins in and it all starts to make perfect sense, despite its rather complex intricacies.
‘Spin‘, for example, almost sounds as though it is going to morph into a nineties dancefloor classic, but instead it jitters and strolls like a lost Boards Of Canada gem. Strobes are a heck of a lot more in your face, however, than the generally ambient electronica purveyed by Edinburgh’s finest mathemagicians (ugh, did I really just call them that?), so while the aforementioned Scots would be able to lull the most ardent of insomniacs into a world of comatose bliss, one suspects that this lot would wake you up after five minutes and whack you full in the face with the bass synth.
“They sound like the band Aphex Twin, BadBadNotGood and Flying Lotus would form” I have been informed by the band’s PR. It’s difficult to argue with that, though it’s also hard to shake off the feeling that, should any extreme metal bands decide to try their hand at the more mind expanding end of the musical spectrum, they could well end up sounding something like this. And I suspect that, once they have faced such an onslaught head on, the words “slap me, I’m delirious” would emanate from every single one of their mullet camouflaged lips.
No, you’re right, I don’t really know what I’m babbling on about either.
Brokespeak is released on 4th November through Blood And Biscuits.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.