Meet the multimedia Massive Attack who want to reinvent practically everything.
The lift shafts that once ferried £50,000 bundles and sackfuls of coins? That’s where the reverb’s created. Accounting? It’s now known as the “Aesthetic Wing”. Main floor? Now a film studio, remix desk and ‘audio-visual autopsy’ venue. And the ‘murder tent’ erected in the call centre upstairs? That’s the living quarters, party room, rehearsal space… and the place where the found sounds are combined, where guitar chords and phrases are tossed on the floor and picked up in random order to make foundations for new songs.
This is The Lab, an abandoned bank in Kennington, south London, that’s become the home of BretonLABS, the creative wing of film/music/art/home electronics collective Breton. “It’s like a ghost squat,” says bassist Daniel McIlvenny in a fitting description of the frankly freezing HQ of a group who resemble Animal Collective directing a Ray Winstone movie.
Their corrosive and mesmerising debut album, ‘Other People’s Problems’, out March 26, calls to mind a trip-hop Foals stalking Crystal Castles around Berlin and merges the brightest scuzztronic sounds with recordings of subway trains, collapsing buildings, ’70s acid stories and, yes, bank vault doors slamming. They had every copy of their first single hand-cut from acetate by a New Zealand vinyl lathe worker and included in their second EP a circuit board that turned into a mini keyboard when you soldered it together. They’ve made acclaimed short films and produced remixes and videos for Flats, Local Natives, Tom Vek and Temper Trap. For their rare ‘gigs’ they hunch in hoodies and blast out boggle-inducing visuals.
“We’d never be arrogant enough to say ‘here’s music reinvented from zero’,” says Breton’s Warsaw-bred squat scene lynchpin (and creative mastermind) Roman Rappak. “But it starts from somewhere completely mental, like a field recording or the backwards noise of a slamming door. Maybe it’ll arrive at something completely reinvented, the more you detach yourself.” He pauses, before considering his band’s future. “By the time we’re 70, the music we’re making will probably be unlistenable – but it won’t sound like anything else…”
Need To Know:
From: South London, via Warsaw
For fans of: Foals, Massive Attack
Buy it now: ‘Edward The Confessor’
See them live: A UK tour is set for late March
Believe it or not: The band are convinced their bank has a secret tube stop they’ve yet to find, where the security men used to deliver sacks of spare change directly into the vaults
This article originally appeared in the January 28th issue of NME