The Strange Death of Liberal England
'stop/go happy/sad forward/forward' EP
by Armchair Anarchist
This three track CD from TSDOLE is a breath of fresh air in these times of samey guitar bands - which is (no doubt) what earned them recent airplay from Steve Lamacq and the crown at this year’s Band Showcase at The Wedgewood Rooms. Foregoing the tired tropes of violent distortion and high-octane heaviness, they carefully craft an almost psychedelic landscape. The CD opens with spooky organ and xylophone, soon to be joined by massed vocals. But no lyrics yet, just a haunting ‘ahh-ahh’ refrain that wouldn’t be out of place in some art-house cinema piece. The music widens out with splashy cymbals and post-rock legato guitar drones. Come the mid-section, a sense of space develops with hints of piano and the guitar gets the distant-delay treatment before the tune returns to the tight, focussed intensity. With your eyes closed, you hardly notice the transition between tunes. The second track opens with slow strummed guitar and more subtle xylophone. The big cymbals return along with the drums and the guitar is back complete with a drenching of effects. This is the only track with lyrics, delivered in a tortured and desperate vocal style that fits perfectly with the clamorous soundtrack around it. There’s a midsection that sees the return of the organ sound and some chord-work from the guitar. A climactic crescendo drops you straight into the third track, again retaining the Sunday-morning-comedown vibe. Haunting and sensitive themes dominate and the distan, howling guitar seems stretched out like a man on the rack. The final third of the tune sees a sudden increase of pace as the music opens up like a dirty window and the sound flies out into wide, polluted skies. The three tracks could almost be seen as a three-part composition – it would be fascinating to hear how they would deal with a full length album. The skill and diversity of instrumentation is brilliant. A lot of the lines and riffs have an improvised architecture to them. There's a definite cinematic feel, coming on like the soundtrack to a drive across a dead and rain-lashed city, in the middle of a post-modern, urban, spaghetti western. It would be immensely difficult to label a band like this. ‘Post-rock’ is a mercifully broad term that can, at least, describe which musical continent they hail from. But it would be demeaning to try to pin them down with comparisons. Don’t try to put them in a box – put them in your stereo instead. Open your mind and close your eyes. See where they transport you. You’ll be surprised.