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London Camden Dingwalls

From the start [a]Built To Spill[/a] do their damnedest to dismantle their art. Each song in turn gets battered and bruised, or dragged round enough corners to leave them helplessly disoriented...

You can't keep a good song down. Idaho's best-kept secret, Doug Martsch, seems to have spent most of the '90s attempting to trample his into the dust, but tonight they're fighting back.



From the start Built To Spill do their damnedest to dismantle their art. Each song in turn gets battered and bruised, or dragged round enough corners to leave them helplessly disoriented. Yet every time they blossom, brighter than before.



But that's what Martsch does, and what he's always done: cut himself off from the world, making music that's a dizzying mixture of complex structures and atmospherics, simple heaven-sent melodies and sheer bloody-mindedness. That's why he's spent so long being critically lauded and commercially ignored.



All that's set to change now, of course. With the success of musical soul mates The Flaming Lips, the pendulum is swinging in his favour. Perhaps that's why he feels the need to try even harder to mess it all up. It's either staggering conceit or sheer folly, but it makes for mesmeric listening.



'In The Morning', gorgeous and grandiose but strangely unassuming, gets skewered by feedback, 'Kicked It In The Sun' rises effortlessly from a haze of languid guitar noise, and 'One Thing' is simply stamped upon like a scrap of burning paper. Occasionally this does give way to a rut of self-absorbed guitar noise. But almost immediately they're ploughing through 'Untrustable/Part 2', nine minutes of spiralling psychedelia and chiming guitars wrapped around Martsch's plaintive Neil Young-like voice.



Even confronted by a partisan crowd entirely under his spell Martsch appears wrapped in his own bubble (Eh?- Ed). There's little rapport and even less histrionics. But then he doesn't need showmanship, he's got his songs and his stories of personal sorrow. Finally, in response to a stream of requests, he replies, "Sorry, we only know eight songs." Perhaps, but every one's a classic.

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