Do., 21. Okt. | Hansa 39 - Feierwerk

SQUID

SQUID

21. Okt., 19:30
Hansa 39 - Feierwerk, Hansastraße 39, 81373 München, Deutschland

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Squid’s  debut album is the connected product of five people who’ve been able to  streamline all their thoughts, energy and creativity into one thing:  creating an album of towering scope and ambition.

The  five piece - consisting of Louis Borlase, Oliver Judge, Arthur  Leadbetter, Laurie Nankivell and Anton Pearson - met in Brighton in 2015  whilst at University. Connecting over a love of ambient and jazz, they  began playing together at a local jazz café. Their tastes widened and  skills expanded, and soon the propulsive sounds of 1970s Germany found  its way into the band’s already eclectic palate via their debut EP,  2017’s Lino.

A  year later followed single ‘Terrestrial Changeover Blues (2007-2012)’  and with it came another progression via its woozy, hypnotic and  unfurling grooves. ‘The Dial’ proved a breakthrough moment for the band,  connecting them with their producer Dan Carey (Black Midi, Fontaines  DC, Kae Tempest, Franz Ferdinand) and his label Speedy Wunderground.  ‘Houseplants’ - a frantic and frenetic burst of wiry post-punk and  jagged kraut-jazz - then rocketed the band to one of the most hyped in  the UK. It was A-listed by BBC Radio 6Music, knockout tours and festival  sets followed, from SXSW to Glastonbury, as did glowing press from The  Guardian, NME, The Face, The Quietus and countless others. The band was  also on the longlist for the BBC Music Sound of 2020 poll.

Working  with Carey and his label again, they released the Town Centre EP, which  Pitchfork described as sounding like “a declaration of limitlessness.”  This sense of limitlessness, endless progression and perpetual forward  motion continues on their debut for Warp. The label being the perfect  home for the band and their ongoing experimental spirit, which they  share with the pioneering electronic artists that have been on the  roster over the years.

Some  bands might be tempted to include previous singles on their debut - and  the band already released two more in 2020 via ‘Sludge’ and  ‘Broadcaster’ - but instead, the album is completely new. “It had to  speak for itself as a whole,” says Leadbetter. “To do that, we couldn't  include songs of the past. They've had their life and we’ve moved on.”

For  the writing sessions, the band decamped at Judge’s old local pub in  Chippenham instead of their usual haunts. “I think there is a tonal  element, and sense of urgency about the album that comes from the time  constraints we had when writing that way,” says Borlase.

That  said, the album is also deeply considered, paced and intricately  constructed. Stick five young men in a pub to write their debut album  and many would come out in a hungover fog with scattered ideas but Squid  used the time for endless experimentation.

For  the recording, Squid hunkered down in Carey’s London basement studio in  the middle of a heatwave. The fact they could trust their long-time  collaborator Carey - along with engineer Alexis Smith - made the  recording such a fruitful one. “One thing I found so inspiring about  working with Dan was his openness to experimentation and his intuition  of what needed to be done,” says Leadbetter.

The  end result is an album that manages not only to eschew but to transcend  genre, making its trajectory impossible to predict. The opening  ‘Resolution Square’ - whilst only 40 seconds long - perfectly captures  the group’s boundless creativity, featuring field recordings of ringing  church bells, tooting bees, and the results of a microphone swinging  from the ceiling orbiting a room of guitar amps.

From  then on in it moves from the endless groove of ‘Narrator’ which  ricochets from funk strut to screeching chaos via the melodic touch of  guest vocalist Martha Skye Murphy, to the infectious skip of ‘G.S.K’ -  as heavy on immersive texture as it is on light touch brass work - via  the enveloping atmospheres and post-rock soundscapes of ‘Global Groove’.

As  an album title, Bright Green Field conjures up an almost tangible  imagery of pastoral England. In reality, it’s something of a decoy that  captures the band’s fondness for paradox and juxtaposition. Judge speaks  of a push-pull element to this album, which is present sonically in its  tension and release approach, as well as thematically and lyrically.  Within the geography of Bright Green Field lies monolithic concrete  buildings and dystopian visions plucked from imagined cities.

Squid’s  music - be it agitated and discordant or groove-locked and flowing -  has often been a reflection of the tumultuous world we live in and this  continues that to some extent. “This album has created an imaginary  cityscape,” says Judge, who writes the majority of the lyrics. “The  tracks illustrate the places, events and architecture that exist within  it. Previous projects were playful and concerned with characters,  whereas this project is darker and more concerned with place - the  emotional depth of the music has deepened.”

The  band had a shared ideas and influences folder, which was quickly filled  with literary references. “A lot tended to be sci-fi and cyberspace  stuff,” says Nankivell. Judge then started to draw parallels between  these sci-fi worlds and some of the bleaker aspects of contemporary  society. “Although this city is not a real place and exists in the  imaginary and cyber spheres, it borrows clear characteristics from the  real world we live in,” he says. “A kind of dystopian British  cityscape.”

With  all band members playing such a vital and equal role, this album is  very much the product of five heads operating as one. “We’re all going  through different phases of our life as a band and as individuals so  that contributes to the eclecticism which is inherent in what we do,”  says Pearson.

Not  only is the role of collaboration key within the band itself, but they  have expanded on that to bring in others. “We contacted some orchestral  and jazz musicians to play arrangements,” says Leadbetter. “That was two  amazing days spent recording strings and horns.” Guests included Black  Country, New Road’s Lewis Evans on saxophone and multi instrumentalist  jazz musician Emma-Jean Thackray.

However,  for all the innovative recording techniques, evolutionary leaps,  lyrical themes, ideas and narratives that underpin the album, it’s also a  joyous and emphatic record. One, that marries the uncertainties of the  world with a curious sense of exploration, as it endlessly twists and  turns down unpredictable avenues. As Borlase says, “It’s the most  ambitious thing we’ve ever done but it was also the most fun.”