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Live: Heights In London

TesseracT side-project headline this impressive bill of modern progressive bands.

Call us cynics but the gravitational pull of TesseracT’s status might have something to do with the decent attendance for this gig tonight, what with their drummer Jay Postones a part of the band, although reassuringly most punters indeed have come along for the whole ride and set about making themselves comfy for the first band of the evening, Toska.

“This is all instrumental but we’re looking for a singer, so if you’re interested, get in touch,” says bassist Felipe Giannazzo, although it’s hard to imagine anything being sung along to the numerous key changes and staccato djent-style rhythms that take Toska on a slightly clamorous journey.

Sumer churn up a cascade of shoegaze that sounds wonderful in the pokey enclaves of The Barfly. It’s an enthralling and heady mix that’s part metallic, buoyed by the rumble of the layered guitars and textured by their far-ranging vocals.

Before the headliners appear, Agent, though a little more straightforward and rigid, take advantage of some excellent sound engineering with big melodies. Guitarist Gerald Gill plays riffs straight out of the Tool handbook. Set against a backdrop of projected squid and jellyfish, new single Death In The Afternoon is a catchy number, but the highlight is drummer Dean Gibb getting a candlelit cupcake for his birthday.

After what’s already been a value-for-money gig, Heights treat the audience to a more poetic treatment of progressive rock. Normally ‘background music’ is a derogatory term, but it seems fitting for Heights. Not because it offers nothing in tantalising moments of ear-grabbing musicianship (it does), but because the three-piece, who have been playing together for 10 years, are so in synch and so good at what they do that the finely honed progressive compositions meld together in a way that lulls you into a relaxed state of mind.

They’re heavier than on record and the drum rolls are explosive. Time Dilation is mechanical and slightly eerie, Solar (Bringer Of Chaos) is a jumble of bubbling bass and complicated rhythms, and excerpts from their second album From Sea To Sky are self-indulgent and subtly menacing. A nice end to a very decent bill.