A late change saw Headquarters replaced by Speak Galactic, who could easily have headlined the night, having recently shared record space on a split (the extremely worthy Aegis Arctic Alp) with this evening’s headliners. Their lineup has another addition, with new – at least to me – multi-instrumentalist, Alex Painter, joining Jim Morrison (drums) & Owen Thomas (guitar, keys, vox) who started the band originally as a solo venture. Speak Galactic are very much an eyes closed/ears open kind of band as aside from Morrison’s precise, energetic & inventive drumming, there isn’t a great deal going on visually, however, musically they have an enveloping sound that would appeal to fans of Panda Bear. Some parts drift along recalling Cluster or Tangerine Dream but then for every dreamy passage we are treated to a glam-like stomp. These guys hypnotise & groove in equal measure.
This evening’s show from Fat Bicth was in fact their last ever and as such had the part celebratory, part commiserative air of a wake. Therefore, anything less than praise for their ambitious aim of playing all their recorded output from formation in 2008 to present day would be churlish. There was much to like about them, the twin guitars rage in a post hardcore style close to those of those of fellow disbanded Brighton groups Johnny Truant & Charlottefield, whilst the drummer’s innocuous appearance belies the fact he is an absolute dynamo. However, there comes a point in this 24 song marathon where the rigid adherence to a specific template which over a 30 minute set could be thrilling became tiresome. Keep an eye out for their future endeavors; undoubtedly all 3 are talented musicians.
P for Persia are a very visual band, so much so it’s pretty difficult to know where to put your eyes. Is it guitarist/vocalist and showman Daniel McNally whose manic yet graceful and theatric stage movements have him working up a sweat from the first minute of the show? Or could it be the frantic, pounding and precise drumming of babyfaced Luke Smith? Well for me this evening it was actually Alex Porter’s set up of electronic trickery and attempting to figure out what is making those game boy gone haywire, DJ Scotch Egg-esque sounds. The music is a fantastically varied array of sounds with closer and set highlight ‘Uncanny Valley’, perhaps the most barmy track of them all, demonstrating their instantly likeable desire to innovate and investigate different styles, time signatures & sounds. The whole package, visually appealing whilst musically inventive leads me more than once to compare them to Tim Smith’s cult art/experimental rock outfit Cardiacs. That’s not a comparison I would use lightly.
Words: James McLarnon