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MENTALIST STRIKE ACTION
:: Day For Airstrikes :: Arficeden :: Cyril Snear :: Lou Whatling ::
29 March 2008 / The Roadhouse / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Given that it's largely a post-rock type affair tonight, it's an odd billing for Lou Whatling, but her gritty and heartfelt folk would make a classy start to any evening. Her voice is striking, soulful and androgynously deep, whilst intricate melodies seem to flow effortlessly from her deftly fingered acoustic guitar. Already known and loved around the local folk scene, on this evidence she's certainly got the talent and the beautifully flowing songwriting to follow the likes of Stephen Fretwell on to bigger things. It's a bit of a shame she's been and gone whilst the place is still pretty empty.

Instrumental prog-infused post-rock; I love it, but sometimes it can all get a bit, you know, serious. Day For Airstrikes, tonight at least, are the antidote to all that. Yes, they are an ingeniously skilled group of musicians who are clearly no strangers to the fifteen minute workouts of both early 70s Pink Floyd and Explosions In The Sky, but you get the feeling they might have been road-testing the venue's ever changing selection of Belgian mentalist beers. Or something, anyway. They play a stunning, fluid piece of twisting wonder which rises and falls and incorporates swooping guitar solos and the post-whatever tradition of more than one person bashing seven shades out of various extra bits of drum kit; carrying you along in its sonic travels. And then they get a massive attack of the giggles and descend into what could equally be band in-jokes or complete nonsense, someone shouts "Riffhouse!" and they thrash out a ten second hardcore metal attack. Well some of them do. Some of them forget to come in, so they have to do it again. By the end of the set this has mutated into "Riff Bathroom!" and one of them's standing on the front monitors thrashing at a cymbal with eyes like satellite dishes. Right...

Arficeden are very much from the Explosions end of the genre, but eschew its tradition for lengthy and vaguely profound sounding song titles; theirs are called things like "Africa", "Japan" and, er, "Football". Again entirely instrumental, their gentle melodic sequences with skittering, almost jazz-like rhythms take sharp turns into crashing walls guitar. It's pretty traditional post-rock, then, but with colossal levels of depth and power especially considering there are just three people making it.

Cyril Snear are already favourites down the experimental end of MM HQ, and they just seem to be getting better every time we see them. There is just so much going on here and yet it's all brilliantly developed. At times the vocal lines, flickery guitar parts and drumbeat seem to be actually operating in different time signatures, but it's a bit like overlaying sheets of tracing paper each bearing fragments of an image - the sum of the parts. The same could be said of the music as a whole; this is a band seemingly unconstrained by adherence to any one genre. The slightly nasal, drawn-out vocals could be Thom Yorke gone emo; the instrumentation Battles-ish math rock; the towers of effects from the Sonic Cathedral set; the timings and outstanding on-offbeat drums from a lost 65daysofstatic track; but overall Cyril Snear manage something you don't see very often - a truly individual sound which is absorbingly magnificent, and the crowd's enthusiastic reaction at the end is richly deserved.



pix-CA08





Resources:
Lou Watling
Day For Airstriks
Arficeden
Cyril Sneer

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