Squid: Bright Green Field album review
The word “island” is generally synonymous with “paradise” – a tropical and warm place, skewered by umbrellas. We are less likely to think of Alcatraz. But when the English rock band Squid conjures up a “concrete island” in the opening minutes of Light green field, it’s closer to the infamous prison than a Sandals resort. The island of “GSK” is a dystopian ruled by Big Pharma, and the opening scene of the record, as drummer and singer Ollie Judge shouted, confines us to this sinister place: “At sunset, on the Glaxo Klein / Well that’s the only way I can tell the time, ”he sings. On this barren rock, the British drug conglomerate is the dominant center of everyday life – so large that it acts like a sundial. “Island” has never sounded so angry or claustrophobic.
Light green field is filled with those squeezing moments – skinny phrases that steadily swell into three-dimensional scenes. The vigorous and detailed arrangements are the source of their expansion, music that resonates against Judge’s choppy lyrics until it bursts. A sickly string undercurrent propels her role as a white collar chore on “GSK”; when he sets out on his evening commute, dreaming of the warm dinner ahead, the music seems to be chasing him. The horn section sounds like a fleet of motorcycles trying to get it off the road.
Squid’s music has always played with discomfort. Six years after their training at university on the coast of England, Judge, Louis Borlase, Arthur Leadbetter, Laurie Nankivell and Anton Pearson have pushed these troubles to catharsis. Like the best Squid singles – “Sludge” from last year, “2019”Indoor plants“—The songs on Light green field set up on a course, only to wobble in another direction the moment you settled in. “Boy Racers” starts off as a linear groove, its gnarled bassline and cut rhythm guitar among the album’s purest arrangements. About halfway through, the pace stops, giving way to a dark, warped drone. A weak mechanical voice speaks, like Daft Punk with a dead battery: “You are still small / And there are things you will never know.” It’s disconcerting but effective, like the moment Extraterrestrial when we discover Ash really is a robot.
Squid approaches his music like qualified choreographers; although each movement is carefully traced, the dance maintains the illusion of spontaneity. Each track seems on the verge of a massive exit, but all the meltdowns are carefully predetermined. “Narrator”, the best song on the album, illustrates the group’s calculated pandemonium. Its opening measures are reminiscent of the early Talking Heads and James luck: Fast ripples of electric guitar and sharp basslines wiggle to a crisp snare rhythm. But it is the abandonment of this structure that is the most interesting. In the middle of the song, guest singer Martha Skye Murphy slowly creeps in, lingering around the edges. As Squid explodes into a frantic coda, Murphy moans his harsh voice, screaming like a slasher-flick victim. This is the album’s most exhilarating soundtrack.
Like magpies, Squid stores tracks from jazz, funk, krautrock, dub and punk, with no interest in adopting a single identity. Their gender agnosticism extends to gear: in addition to drums, bass, and guitar, Light green fieldThe alto saxophone, violin, trumpet, cello, trombone, and racket, a 16th-century wind instrument, also known as a sausage bassoon, contribute to disorientation. (Leadbetter’s father, who specializes in medieval rock and Renaissance instruments, takes care of the sausage bassoon duties on “Boy Racers.”) Even amid all these choices, Squid’s spinoffs are orchestrated stunts, never heady jam-band accidents. More than a canonized style, it is their level of control that sets them apart.
Yet the characters of Squid and the world they inhabit are in constant friction. On “Global Groove,” the judge grows impatient with “tight Lycra,” going through the day like a tired Zumba instructor. The rhythm is a narcotized march, driven by hits of the guitar and saxophone. The song only offers a few visuals: insane TV shows, the oppressive titular dance. Is this an ironic take on fitness culture or a sheer chore? (The two weren’t always distinct: treadmills were once instruments of penal discipline.) “Pamphlets” turns another harmless item into a suffocating symbol of compliance: “Pamphlets through my door / And pamphlets on my floor,” the judge yells, as if crushed by the leaflets slipping through his slot. to mail. Light green field is filled with these imaginative dispatches from capitalist hell, but it’s Squid’s demanding heckling that exposes their true nature. The field is not green with grass, but radioactive sludge.
Buy: Brutal trade
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