Hurling music into pigeonholes is a smudgy task. The journalistic vice of making up genres has enraged and patronised fans since the dawn of criticism. When correct, we are lauded – yet, equally, we’re abhorred when descriptions get cheap. Intelligent drum & bass, new rave, or R&bmo, anyone? Thought not. However, as a journalistic endeavour, getting the terminology close to onomatopoeia is a strong starting point.
So after Sheffield foursome 65daysofstatic issued its rhythmically advanced studio missive of ‘The Fall Of Math’ in 2004, on the audacious Monotreme Records, words suddenly clicked with the sounds in the air. Pairing agonised guitars and a progressive rhythm section with spatial programming more akin to acts on the same city’s legendary Warp Records, the reinvigorated older genre of math rock sat squarely on the band’s technical shoulders.
This 11-track voyage – expanded to 20, collecting EP tracks and B-sides, for the anniversary edition – starts with the sampled monologue ‘Another Code Against The Gone’. It sets out their hybrid stall and refutes the rock band taboo of meddling with dark electronics. Track two, ‘Install A Break In The Heart That Clucks In Arabic’, launches and concludes as delicately as one could imagine – but the centre of the song is a plasticised landscape where anything seemingly could happen. A seething cacophony of distortion drops into a scything breakbeat interlude that almost sounds imported from Squarepusher’s hard drive. Yet it’s a brave insertion that instantly wins the hearts of wider-thinking rock fans.
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‘Retreat! Retreat!’, live at Truck Festival 2012
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Track three is equally propulsive. ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ is a visceral song still held by many fans as the band’s finest work. Teasing with a melodious glockenspiel before crushing us with their heavy and thrillingly progressive guitars, the band then traverses a 10/4 time signature while making this sonic illusion feel perfectly normal.
The next eight tracks deploy similar codas of cerebral, spacious and quiet musings, subsequently poleaxed by gloriously vicious sonic explosions. ‘Default This’, a synapse-blasting electronic drum sequence, conjures a vacuum of shock that the soon-to-be signature swell of ‘I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood’ amply fills.
‘Hole’, later leading an EP of the same name, is vast in its vision and features a raft of bursting B-sides. Although ‘Fix The Sky A Little’ feels like a coiled rapier, sliding smoothly by wrought experience, we’re wise to its insidious ability to explode at any given off-kilter moment.
Over the years we’ve come to appreciate that 65dos are possessed by an ability to wield huge slabs of sound around our dancing ears. It’s one of their true talents. Their illusion of sonic architecture is vast and they squat in the same live bracket of similar structural manipulators Autechre or the technically adept minimal dance producers of Plastikman or Jeff Mills. 65dos however killed the old-fashioned way with ricocheting live drums and an armada of processed guitars.
‘The Fall Of Math’ thus set a path for these outsider rockers to exist for the last glorious decade, seducing us more deeply with every release. Alongside obvious bedfellows such as Battles and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, they’ve kept a spacious area to the left side of rock music deliriously pumped full of a mix of exotic air and strange gasses which still have the power to intoxicate us at every listen.
Words: Matthew Bennett
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Listen to ‘The Fall Of Math’ on Deezer, below…