65 Days of Static – “Wild Light”
Review by John Deasey
I was smitten by 65DOS when I first heard The Fall of Math many years ago. A joyous cacophony of jagged beats, storming riffs and crashing walls of layered sounds that were simply astonishing.
Anyone who has heard ‘Retreat Retreat’ from that album will know what I mean.
Even back then, I always thought there was a cinematic quality to their epically conceived mini-meisterwerks. The only nagging thought was how they would develop this sound over the next few years.
Well, hear we are, several years later with a beautifully constructed and totally cinematic collection of tracks that are, frankly, brilliant.
Art and media students must be salivating at the prospect of putting images to this music and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these tracks end up as backing music to television photo montages or as the backdrop to moody, gritty northern European detective series’.
I see city lights, rain, romantic liasons in doorways and dramatic edgy moments of violence. But I also see mountain vistas, euphoric ascents, stormy skies and sunbursts ……
This album is like a huge slab of urban edgy artistry taking on the Icelandic beauty of Sigur Ros and slaying it with slabs of guitar-laden, techno-filled post-apocalyptic grandeur.
The opening track ‘Heat Death Infinity Splinter’ starts proceedings in stately style with a glorious swathe of keyboards swirling around a steady beat, with that typical electro-tinge so typical of 65DOS. As the track builds there are clues to the band’s past – clicks, whirrs, that amazing metallic beat tone they get – and then, and then …… the release !! The release that lets it all out and we finish before we know what has happened. Immense.
‘Prisms’ has already been doing the rounds with a stunning video clip and this track reminds me of a gritty, cellar-based version of something Craig Armstrong might have been involved with had he taken something during recording of his outstanding ‘The Space Between Us’. The track is driven along by an ace beat, that breaks up, distorts and brings it all back together again for a belting finale of pulsating electro-synth rock.
‘The Undertow’ , as it’s title suggests, is a gentler track and allows us some breathing space as a gentle piano motif soothes us, but before long we are lifted, arms raised, yet again by a stunning crescendo to a sea of feedback, crackling fires, echoes and …silence.
I’m a big fan of dramatic, instrumental music as it can fit so many scenarios – there are no lyrics to fix a story or suggest a mood, Instead, your mood is created by when and how you are listening and this can change with every play.
For example, ‘Blackspots’ has me one minute in mind of bowling along the motorway at 90mph, in the style of Kraftwerk, then the next minute it brings to mind a city back-alley with rain lashing down, blood seeping into the gutter from a slain body ….
This album builds and builds, as if somehow during recording, the inspiration just kept on coming. ‘Sleepwalk City’ does the impossible and raises the bar higher yet again with a driving, urgent, city-beat with a vaguely New Order feel but awash with layers of huge keyboards and the undercurrent of crunchy techno-sounds.
‘Taipei’ begins with less techo-trickery and we have a lovely piano led introduction with jangly guitars that uplift and entrance with that typical surge of optimism until we have a huge swell of amazing sound that bursts out of the speakers and overwhelms all who may be in its aural path – although this is almost in standard post-rock territory with the build up and release, it is so well done and just so typically 65DOS it is breathtaking.
There is a real sense this album is soaring into a place where it will be difficult to come down from.
The penultimate track, ‘Unmake the Wild Light’ snakes into life with a sinuous bass pattern that sets a marvellous platform for the intricacies laid upon it – strings, guitars, synths, keyboards moving with a simple chord progression to lift, inspire and take us on some epic journey for which the destination is never known. As the track builds, the beat drives, and the wave of crashing sound becomes almost unbearable we are thankfully released from the tension and allowed to breathe again ….
…but only for a moment, as we head towards ‘Safe Passage’.
A fitting title for a closing track to an epic album. It is as though we have made it safely through the emotionally uplifting journey, not caved in to its majesty and not cowered at the questions it asks of us. It has become our friend and is one we can now trust.
‘Safe Passage’ finishes off a truly epic piece of work in a style worthy of some of the best pieces of instrumental music I have heard for a long while.
Cinematic, emotional, uplifting, coruscating, life-affirming.