How shall we leave this dead-dog to

It’s coming up to ten years since it happened. Do you remember? In the last golden hours of 2004 an album came which both mirrored its setting and echoed the imploding social structures of dystopian novels. Drum skitters, distortions and repeating beats demanded your attention. Haunting voices and emotive signifiers glitched around headphones and speakers. A wordless manifesto from an absurdist hive-mind. Drowned out of the 2Fly studios in Sheffield, 65daysofstatic released The Fall Of Math.
Original Release: 2004
Label: Monotreme
FFO: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Aphex Twin, Christina Milian

There was a huge mystique gathered around them. Through their controlled online presence and simply worded aphorisms scrawled on demos, they kept themselves hidden. Shrouded by bootlegs and remixes of your favourite pop stars, their looped vocals and fucked drums reverberated horribly off northern club walls with the likes of Oceansize and Youthmovies. And they were poor. And they were unfashionable. Maybe that’s how they’ve lasted so long. Something about candles burning low and slow. Of course there was that story that they actually burnt their demos by candlelight to save money for electricity. Or the story that they they faked press cuttings to get a record deal. Or that they are named after the last words of Adolf Hitler. And that’s it. The stories, the whispered chatter on forums that if you peer hard enough into you can still hope for truth.* The well weighted dictats from four bearded men who wear too much black and somehow came out of the inevitable collapse of the music industry with something. Or maybe nothing, I’m not their accountant. At least they’ve finally earned enough to get haircuts.

Accidentally they tapped into something hallowed by the hardcore continuum, the fetish of mystique. Adam Harper discusses the effect it has on listening and, for many fans, 65 were one of the most fetishised. You can see it in tattoos, t-shirts, beards and breath. In ranking albums and hanging out after shows to collect broken memorabilia. Like a gnostic sect they wander unsure whether to pass on their knowledge or keep it sacred. But it is sacred.

The album is plugged in. Synths pan over the static landscape and electronic breath pants hollow and quantized. As drums pound and the apocalypse is foreshadowed a time-stretched voice declares who is bringing you this paean: Siks’Tē Fīv. Following on from Unreleased/Unreleasable Vol. 1 this short introduction makes sense. It fits in compartmentally with the musical aesthetic the band had carved out for themselves in the four years they had been around. In reality they were just a band with day jobs and dreams of something bigger but before Youtube and via one of the internet’s old-school buccaneers they were much more. In ninety seconds they summed up the absurdity of teenage angst and existential crises, notions of political frustration that hadn’t yet come to fruition, an obsession with dystopia and and every unanswered question. In six minutes they had completely changed the way you thought about pop music. And then something else.

This negative energy just makes me stronger. This band is unstoppable.**

This was anthemic. Is anthemic. One of the earliest tracks written by a group of early twentys kids who wore all black and got their fans to trash venues.*** One not complex in structure but entirely emotive. One showing the beauty in distortion and feedback, in crackles and pops, reminiscent of Conor Oberst’s ‘Road To Joy’ mantra: Failures always sounded better, let’s fuck it up. Make some noise. And then some.

It propels forward into ‘Default This’, a track which typifies the collision of styles prominent on early releases, aggressively distorted drums competing with beautiful unnerving melodies. Polyrhythms upon Effrim Menuck delays for the looped future. Stumbling into ‘I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood‘ trying to follow the piano as it tracks familiar ground all the while led astray by guitars and those disjointed snares, scared by those bass stabs. The Fall Of Math builds upon set assumptions, quiet then loud, half then double time but in the way only 65 know how. And what has to be their best breakdown. Bass slides and all the glitches you want. The drumwork on ‘This Cat Is A Landmine‘ predicts the astounding Destruction Of Small Ideas in variety, paradiddles, rolls and sheer ferocity. It beats and bleeds and draws you close to it whispering softly that we’re all about to die.

As the guitars delay like lasers across a club floor the track pans into ‘The Last Home Recording’. The very name is filled with hope and loss, a true representation of 65’s thesis: this feel’s like an end, but is it? Field recordings of eclipsed voices draw your mind to any Constellation record you care to mention building upon the mystique and then ‘Hole’. Growling is a hackneyed description for bass tones but the only one truly appropriate for the peak to ‘Hole‘ as it bursts out in symphonic joy, in a wonderful blend of electronics, guitars and drums. ‘Fix The Sky A Little‘ starts off so beautifully quiet. So quiet you’d be forgiven for thinking the record to have ended. Preceding the shape ‘Radio Protector’ would take on ‘One Time For All Time’ – the delayed guitars, the piano churning chords, the build – those looped vocals which have lost all meaning but taken on every meaning can only stop you. This is no filler. ‘Aren’t We All Running?‘ Yeah.

Standout Tracks: ‘Retreat! Retreat!’, ‘I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood’, ‘Fix The Sky A Little’
With every passing listen location becomes a factor. The atmospheres build through samples and delay pedals build sets and score soundtracks for liminal and bleak worlds that may or may not exist – it’s hard to tell anymore. ‘Default This’ is a perfect example: the varying acoustics are held together by a wind both grounding and confusing. How are you meant to feel about this? Dislocation and dissociation feature prominently, mental dissociation especially. A literal uncanny valley where you’re uncomfortably unsure whether you know where you are or not. Is this the 65 Republic? Blend with that the fascination for the absurd nature of existence, the notion that there is *something* more but we are too feeble to understand it. And that’s the magic of 65daysofstatic. The music, the aesthetic, the ideas, the rhetoric all blend in a struggle against something, let’s say bleakness. It neither confirms or denies the absurdity of existence, it simply turns the volume up fucking loud and drowns it out. This barely feels like a retrospective. 65 is. For everything, always.

*Shouts to RachyB, Senza, Irenya, Oscar Thompson and CEE.
**I found this graffitied in my university halls. Although we shouldn’t blindly accept them as evidence for the existence of a higher power coincidences are cool. Small phrases can signify much more than just the meaning of their composite words. Shouts to whoever wrote that.
***Or was it just one?

65daysofstatic are always on tour. They are playing at Koko on 27th March where they are playing two sets. The first based around The Fall Of Math. It is sold out. See you there.