Last night I watched 65daysofstatic under some railway arches in London. I’d been in the same venue 24 hours previously to watch a band who might one day be as good as 65, and one who won’t. I’ll leave you to judge who they are. 65 did what they always do – they reaffirmed, to me, what it is to really give yourself to music through the intimate care they put into performing.
I know this is something of a hard sell to many: an instrumental band from Sheffield who do things like name their albums ‘The Destruction Of Small Ideas’ and their songs ‘Install A Beak In The Heart That Clucks Time In Arabic’. A band who make no secret of their desire to move instead of simply divert. What’s most important is that every time I see them, and every single time I listen to a piece of music they wrote, the endeavour and heart shines through like a beacon. Dillinger Escape Plan once asked, ‘Is the man half-machine or is the machine half man?’ and 65 are that perfect balance between the two. It’s like they’re on a constant, unyielding quest to work out what makes great music so great.
Last night in Heaven they played a handful of new songs, none of which I know the names of. Funnily enough, I doubt they know the names of them either. They were uniformly brilliant. The last new one was some weirdly expansive seven- or eight-minute monster that featured a blend of electronics and primal percussion that I never wanted to end – it built and built and built and folded over itself a dozen times before blossoming almost in slow motion. It’s the highest possible compliment to say it sounded like something off the new Fuck Buttons album fed through a mincer powered by the brute will and delicate, nurtured talent of the 65 kids.
I remember seeing them at a university union in London and almost losing my mind when ‘Radio Protector’ came at me, all fists and fluttering twinkles. Last night I stood in the breeze of an air-con unit in the same clothes I’d been wearing for 36 hours and let the same thing happen again – it’s weird, when you watch them it feels like they’re willing the crowd to let them in. For a band to conjure up such magic without a single gurgled lyric, for them to be so inspiring, well, that’s quite rare, isn’t it? I spent a miserable year living in an awful city where I became mildly obsessed with 65 and spent hours and hours looking for meaning in their music. Of course, it’s like trying to read Aramaic: to someone, these scripts contain multitudes of everything art can provide but to the rest of us it’s the search that’s so rewarding.
It’s their heart, when all’s said and done, that attracts me to them over and over. They can intellectualise and contextualise all they – or any commentator, or aspiring noise terrorist, because I’m also certain 65 would love it for someone to rip their music apart and give it a new home in the form of some fuckscrewed bootleg – wish but you boil down all the technology they use in their hourly search for something else, when you strip back the artwork and the songtitles and the relentless touring and the lights that flash when Paul Wolinski coaxes ‘Radio Protector’ out and the broken strings and insomniac dozes (yup, I meant that) there remains this incredible heart. 65 are four inquisitive souls, but they care more about their music than maybe any band I’ve ever come across. I’m not going to explain why I think that; just spend some time dipping into their electrical presence online and you’ll see why.
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Personally – and I think all 65 ever want is a personal response – they want everyone who isn’t in their band to feel as moved by the music they make as they do. I don’t know if I’m right, if that’s the sole motivation to why they get up in the mornings and write 65 opera, but that’s what it feels like. And there aren’t many bands you can say that about.
I’m excited about their new material – be it album or EP or something else – in the same way I get excited about seeing old friends. I know it’s going to be a really good time.
Long live 65.