The crowning glory comes with the finale of [B]Daniel Johnson[/B]'s [B]'Speeding Motorcycle'[/B]: where once there was a wonky two-wheeler held together with string, there's now a huge, racing road

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London WC2 LA2

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London WC2 LA2

Mayday, mayday. [a]Future Pilot AKA[/a] are in trouble. Sushil Dade‘s rarely seen sonic travellers – tonight comprising Dade, jazz saxophonist Bill Wells and a very nervous girl on sitar – are spiralling way off course. A collision of jazz rolls, tape loops and Eastern vibes piles up beneath Wells‘ virtuoso parping, while Sushil summarily halts tracks mid-groove. Like a balloon mission to Mars, you know they’re not going to make it but you can’t help but applaud their recklessness.

New York’s Dymaxion are another sort of craft altogether. You can hear the precision math-rock engineering in every measured thrust, but as their songs motor along, they reveal a new wave retro undercarriage. So mostly, they are Trans Am playing Devo, with recurring haunted house noises: baffling, but fun nonetheless.

Tonight’s genuine shock, however, comes from The Pastels. For so long the indie Grateful Dead (less a proper band with normal fans than an enduring creed complete with moon-eyed acolytes), they’ve blossomed into a source of listening pleasure instead of indie pain – as evinced by recent album ‘Illumination’ and its inspired remix alter ego.

Tonight, bassist Aggi is temporarily replaced by Gerard from Teenage Fanclub, and a couple of tunes acquire the twangy lope of a Fanclub ditty as a result. But that’s less important than the vast sea-change in The Pastels proper: Stephen Pastel, the man who invented spidery lo-fi vocalising, has finally learnt to sing; Katrina‘s wobbly warble has been distilled into a clear stream of song, and guitarist Jonathan wrangles his instrument into bold shapes, the like of which we’ve never seen in ten years of Pastels-watching. So ‘Over My Shoulder’ sounds languidly pastoral, without a hint of its rickety past, while Katrina‘s singing on the splendid ‘Viaduct’ is even better than on the single itself. No, really.

The crowning glory comes with the finale of Daniel Johnson‘s ‘Speeding Motorcycle’: where once there was a wonky two-wheeler held together with string, there’s now a huge, racing road monster of a tune.

Watch them burn rubber.