Tribal Psychedelia And Sleazy Lost Highways, A We Lost The Sea Gig Review; Words by M H Thomson and Pics by Mark J.


Tribal Psychedelia And Sleazy Lost Highways, A We Lost The Sea Gig Review:

Words: M H Thomson Pics: Mark J.

I never really know what to expect when walking into a post-metal gig, especially when I’m not terribly familiar with either act playing, but I have always been pleasantly surprised and occasionally blown away by the experience and We Lost The Sea’s gig at Howler in Brunswick the other day was both of those things. Two fine acts on top form, the following are my thoughts on their sets in slightly more detail:

Lucid Planet:

A cacophony of psychedelic progressive metal and modern techno craziness to kick off the show. These guys had it all. Their tunes were all long complex pieces that felt like more of a jam at times but were clearly very well thought out and did contain the occasional recurring riff.

Their first number opened with a nice jazzy cross stick beat from drummer Chris Cameron that led into the first of many progressive psychedelic metal style riff led by frontman/bassist/vocalist Luke Turner, his vocal delivery really pushing the prog metal vibes, with a sound redolent of a mix of Cedric Bixler-Zavala from The Mars Volta, Jonathan Davis from Korn, and in places Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. And Turner’s appearance definitely fits the bill, as he immediately reminded me of Ben Levin from Bent Knee but a lot less hipster. The moody organ part plodding along in the background is very clearly being triggered by guitarist Michael Box’s tablet device setup really builds a nice atmosphere.

The track/jam/unsure then shifted into a more tribal industrial feel led mostly by Cameron’s drum work, allowing him to really stretch the legs of his drum rig which is more of a sample triggering mechanism than a traditional kit at times, blasting us with a lot of what sounded like early Nine Inch Nails (NIN) drum samples accompanied by some more primitive percussion notably a rattle stick and a tambourine. The track then jumped out of nowhere into a skank reggae-style movement that then managed to seamlessly segue into a more Porcupine Tree-style metal progression.

All this before descending into more of the same progressive madness but this time with a slightly more western vibe, Box’s guitar solo relieving me of my wonder as to what it would sound like if Carlos Santana scored a spaghetti western film.  At this point, we’re about 15 minutes into the set and I was starting to get the impression the gig was going to be one long jam session but then the first track actually ended.

The second track started off with a more tribal feel, some nice monkish chanting that had an almost Yothu Yindi feel to it just not quite ocker enough. This was quickly followed by some banging techno dance beats and as yet unmentioned guitarist Darcy Rank firing off into a real trippy frippertronics-laden solo. This then led the group back into a much more tribal feel, Cameron again leading the charge on the drums with some very disjointed totemic beats that put me in mind of a Fela Kuti/Einstürzende Neubauten crossover. His use of his stacked splash cymbals really pushes the slightly industrial vibes here. The last track they performed was still long but short by their standards and had a feel that started out as something off of Tool’s Undertow and ended up in a hypnotic dirty dubstep rave, Box’s pentatonic wankery adding some cool psychedelic colour to the mix.

Overall Lucid Planet’s performance was a varied crazy masterclass in progressive tomfoolery, proving that you can break every rule in the book and still pull it off when you have musicians that good. The consistent pinky red and blue lighting scheme, although it changed very little throughout the set certainly set the tone perfectly. We Lost The Sea really had their work cut out for them having to follow that up.

Mark's take: What a killer, mixed-genre mindfuck of a genius band, they blew my mind. I fucking adored the weirdly pleasant mix of prog, and psychedelic rock mixed with all the appeal of an underground bush doof.

Don't miss this wild and sharp band, be it the sublime music skills and/or the resonatingly abstract vibes.

We Lost The Sea:

(the calm before the storm...)

These guys set opened with a rather lengthy spoken word intro accompanied by some background noise. Sounded like an American political speech of some kind to me. Immediately took notice of what seems to be a growing trend with post-metal bands of using Kevin Burkett’s Electrical Guitar Company guitars as their left-handed guitarist Carl Whitbread started tuning up during the intro tape.

The music proper started with a very ambient and trance (as in being in a trance, not the dance genre) sound. This sentiment was cemented by the repetitive opening section of music, even the lead guitar motif seemed to return endlessly. The slow spacey-paced trance merrily meandered on for some time only to be broken up by an astonishing and very David Gilmour-esque slide guitar solo. As the track wore on, we were treated to elements of all sorts of influences from a piece from Tubular Bells I can’t quite place to what sounded like a sludge rendition of a noisy deep cut from NIN’s The Downward Spiral. The seemingly schizophrenic and much faster-paced light show echoes the musical feel at every step.

After another quite long backing tape interlude with spoken word (this time I think it was film dialogue, rather than a speech) and a guitar change for all three guitarists. They broke into something more akin to the sleazy dark background music from the David Lynch film Lost Highway than anything else. This tune had a nice slow-burning build-up as the band gradually added layers to the piece, it felt like the world’s longest and most convoluted crescendo. It built to an absolutely brutal conclusion though with a very atonal maelstrom of frenzied guitar parts really ramping up the chaos.

The third track seemed to be bassist Kieran Ellioit’s time to wear his influences on his sleeve taking cues from both Snuff by Slipknot and Wish You Were Here (the song not the record) by Pink Floyd and blending them perfectly into the bigger picture of the track. The tune then merged into another noisy banger of a main riff, the song's climax. It was during this tune that drummer Alasdair Belling’s snare drum fell over, he still managed to not just hit it (albeit at a really crooked angle) but not miss a fucking beat. This was followed by another long song, that was also essentially a noisy drawn-out build-up to nothing, but the song's uneasy feeling of being unresolved is the whole point, that tension is a key part of the message so far as I’m concerned.

Quite a number of their songs follow this pattern, long build-up to a big heavy riff they sit on for what often feels like a tad too long, this is not the band's fault but more that of the PA being turned up too loud and distorted, as a result, all the nuance in the big heavy riffs get lost and thus the riffs would start to drag.

The highlights of the tracks in the latter half of the set consisted mostly of truly wicked drum parts from Belling, be it a nice build-up on Timpani mallets or a tasteful rim shot and marching beat combo. Another overarching takeaway I have of their performance was the perceived influence of the NIN record The Fragile.

Bits and pieces from this record seemed to show up all over the place during the set, both in musical stylings and especially in the light show which seemed to be mostly cut from the same cloth as the lighting design for the Fragility Tour NIN did in support of The Fragile album. All told a tremendous if not slightly chaotic performance.

When all was said and done I feel Lucid Planet and We Lost The Sea as a live pair worked incredibly well. Both were complimentary but very different acts, one more psychedelic and the other more brutal, but worked very nicely together to make what felt like a well-rounded whole gig experience and one I’d certainly pay to see play again.

Mark's take: 

I utterly worship We Lost The Sea for many reasons; this is pure unadulterated tension and mood music without all the wanky trimmings. Post-Metal like any other genre can be sterile or like many Doom-genre bands; be simply boring as fuck. We Lost The Sea have always been the refreshing opposite to this. They always drop records that exceed my listening needs to wild overflowing volumes and live the band crushes you every single time by the sheer commitment to the music. Every musician in the band is exceptional and yet the band members are chilled as fuck. These are the sorts of guys, you wanna drink whiskey or red wine until dawn with, but at the same time can have a deep and intelligent chat with. Support both of these bands as they are producing some of the best music in the world currently and back it up with scintillating gigs every time.

Shout out to both bands for taking the time to chat to Myles and me and to Bird's Robe Collective(one of the best promoters around) for inviting us to this brilliant performance.

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