If the notion of progressive music is about pushing your own boundaries, of bold sonic exploration into unknown terrain, of never settling for the obvious or the comfortable, then Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic are truly a prog band for our times. Their evolution from creators of viscerally exciting post-rock noise to the much more electronica-based collective we know today has been a joy to witness as they’ve consistently wrong-footed our expectations.
As such, it almost seems counter-intuitive to look back, and yet this second album from these spiritual brothers of Aphex Twin, Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, 2005’s One Time For All Time, is an artefact well worth reexamination. From the off, it crackles with tension, often literally in the bolts of electrical glitches that they capture and illuminate in a manner that would have Nikola Tesla beaming with pride.
Completely instrumental, the record relies on the music to say everything, to create an immersive atmosphere that often feels so oppressive you start to fear you may never resurface, from the creepy, skittering, insectoid opener Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here to the queasy drum’n’bass of Await Rescue to the tense sci-fi of Mean Low Water. The Big Afraid, meanwhile, is an accurately titled horror movie in sonic form, a terrifying stew of groaning ropes, whirring drills and nightmare-nursery glockenspiel, and the moments throughout the record where sounds dart from speaker to speaker like hungry nocturnal creatures can raise paroxysms of shivers. That it’s all done under a cloud of glorious, unremitting noise makes it all the more special.
65daysofstatic themselves may not be looking backwards – they’re far too busy with taking their music into outer space and beyond – but in this case, a little nostalgia from their listeners is no bad thing.