65daysofstatic live @ The Button Factory, Dublin 18 January 2014...

Let’s get the rant out of the way first – the Dublin gig going experience is become an increasingly depressing affair. The idiots who think purchasing a ticket entitles them to chatter incessantly throughout the whole show are making life miserable for audience and bands alike. It’s disrespectful, rude and quite frankly, a massive pain in the arse for those who go along to see AND hear a band they have paid good money for. Rant over. Now, on to the show, and despite having to contend with a gaggle of guffawing buffoons, 65daysofstatic delivered a tight, punchy set that really hammered home just how good last year’s Wild Light album is. Though not sold out, there was a decent crowd at the Button Factory to welcome the Sheffield quartet back after a lengthy absence from these shores. Calling them a Post Rock band is slightly misleading – yes, they do play instrumental, guitar based Rock music, but they don’t adhere religiously to the Post Rock blueprint. Lengthy, slow building intros are eschewed, as 65daysofstatic go for the jugular straight from the off with their dense, rhythmic and muscular sound. There is a genuine attempt to engage with the audience, again marking them apart from their more sullen, remote Post Rock compatriots. They begin the set with the awesome opening cut from their Wild Light album – ‘Heat Death Infinity Splitter’ sounded like the end of the world; the slow-mo, drum heavy beat and sci-fi synths achieving maximum impact and from that point on, there was no let up. The occasional piano interlude in the middle of a song gave the audience time to catch their breath but older songs like ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘Radio Protector’ were high octane affairs, and the band...

Enemies – Embark Embrace...

Wicklow based four piece Enemies follow up their universally praised debut album with a record that poses more questions than answers. Embark Embrace takes the precise guitar shapes and syncopated rhythms of Math Rock and fuses them with a less po-faced version of Post Rock instrumental music to conjure up with something that is refreshingly and uniquely their own. Guest vocal slots from Heathers and Conor Adams of Cast of Cheers add a new and welcome ingredient to the sonic stew, breaking up the instrumental workouts and adding a little more colour to their sound. Perhaps mindful of the fact that the market for instrumental rock music is a pretty limited one, the addition of these guest vocal appearances could be seen as a tentative toe in the water, an indicator that the band might be considering a path where vocals become an integral feature of their sound. Certainly, the vocal chant of ‘Executive Cut’ turns a melodic instrumental into something more celebratory while elsewhere tracks like ‘Indian Summer’ are exuberant, genre-defying songs that stray beyond the rigid confines that sometimes made their debut seem a little narrow in focus. The band are obviously seriously talented musicians -the taut rhythms and complex guitar interplay at the heart of tracks like ‘Unit Shifter’ and ‘Love Unlimited’ demonstrate that talent to the full. There is a fluidity to this album that hints at a band confident enough to let these songs go where they need to go – the whole record feels like a tight knit group of musicians playing a series of extended, energetic jams. It will be interesting to see where Enemies journey to next – this is music ideally suited for the festival environment, but instrumental Rock music rarely connects with an audience...

Mono live @The Button Factory 6th December 2012...

Japanese post-rock outfit Mono slipped quietly into town last week for a show that bore all the hallmarks of a secret gig. Very little advance publicity led to a surprisingly low turnout for a band that released one of the very best albums of the last five years. Released in 2009, the superb Hymn to the Immortal Wind still stands as a towering, majestic achievement – terrifying and beautiful in equal measure, with eloquent string-drenched passages giving way to pulverising guitar and drums based climaxes. Early indications are that new album For My Parents continues in the same vein as its illustrious predecessor so it was always going to be interesting to see how Mono distilled the heavily orchestrated and cinematic sound of their most recent two albums down to just a four piece band. As it happened, they managed it pretty impressively – there were plenty of stirring moments of epic grandeur and stunning emotional peaks. Without the full orchestral arrangements that were such an integral part of Hymn to the Immortal Wind, it was left to the dual guitars of Takaakira Goto and Hideki Suematsu to wring as much emotion out of these songs as possible, and they did this as best as could be expected. Like so much post-rock instrumental music, all of the songs start off with sparse, simple guitar motifs, before building and building to the mother of all climaxes – Mono stuck pretty closely to this blueprint, but without the subtle variations provided by the addition of a full orchestra on their recent records, it did sound a little repetitive at times. Opening with the first three numbers from their new album, it took a while for the crowd to warm up – Mono are not a band...

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!...

That much maligned genre of music known as Post-Rock has shipped some heavy criticism in recent years.  Mention Post-Rock to most music fan and images of serious young men playing lengthy instrumental pieces with pretentious song titles immediately spring to mind. The bands that have aligned themselves with this genre have done much to promote this stereotypical image by largely adhering closely to the Post-Rock manifesto, almost to the point of parody. Which is a shame really, because scratch beneath the surface, and you will find that some of the most inspiring and exciting music of the last 10 years has emerged from this scene. Bands like Mono, Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You and our own God is an Astronaut have all produced superb albums that have stood the test of time and done much to promote the notion that Post-Rock has more to offer than the stereotypical image would have us believe. Canadian post –rockers Godspeed You!  Black Emperor can justifiably lay claim to having been the most influential band of the past fifteen years in this genre. From the release of their debut album in 1997 to the announcement of an indefinite hiatus in 2003, GY!BE were right at the vanguard of the Post-Rock movement –their emotional,  guitar driven instrumental music with a slight political edge set the benchmark for other bands operating in this field. Although many tried to imitate them, very few bands managed to hit the peaks of intensity they achieved on their seminal album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. Their reappearance as a live act in 2010 was warmly welcomed, and now with little or no fanfare, they have dropped Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, their first album release since 2002. Twenty minute...

Mono -Hymn To The Immortal Wind...

Japan’s Mono have been at the vanguard of that much maligned genre of music known as Post-Rock over the last decade. Mention Post-Rock to most music fan and images of serious young men playing lengthy instrumental pieces with pretentious song titles immediately spring to mind. Those bands that have aligned themselves with this genre have done much to promote this stereotypical image by largely adhering closely to the Post-Rock manifesto, almost to the point of parody. Which is a shame really, because scratch beneath the surface, and you will find some of the most inspiring and exciting music of the last 10 years emerging from this scene. On this, their 5th studio album, Mono may well have delivered one of the defining records of this genre, and certainly their most accomplished effort to date. Hymn to the Immortal Wind is a towering, majestic achievement – terrifying and beautiful in equal measure, with eloquent string-drenched passages giving way to pulverising guitar and drums based climaxes, a whisper to a scream. Producer Steve Albini  (at the helm for his third Mono album) employs a full orchestra to devastating effect on opener ‘Ashes in the Snow’ and this sets the blueprint for what follows –Mono never stray too far from the mix of epic orchestral strings and soaring post-rock guitars, but when the mix is this heady, who cares? ‘Burial at Sea’ employs a tribal drum beat to steadily build towards its furious climax – guitars and orchestra bleed into one and this is perhaps Albini’s greatest contribution – he never sets out to separate, to tidy things up, recognising the impact of the sound, not its component parts. Track 3, ‘Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn’, offers some respite; a shorter, more restrained Morricone-like effort that leaves the...