Squid: How to get a feel for this inspiring British band – Music Reads


SquidThe music of is hard to describe and that’s a good thing.

Arty post-punk, krautrock, jazz, noise rock, afrobeat and indie all jostle in their ambitious and often cacophonous songs. That’s what makes their first album, Bright green field, one of the most exciting albums of 2021.

“There’s a huge reliance on improvisation and the ability to explore any given idea,” says the guitarist Louis Borlase.

“We’re really five separate people coming together and being very maximalist with our ideas as a group.”

Like other British newcomers Midi Black and New Black Country Road, Squid revels in exploring the far reaches of rock, balancing experimentation with a dedication to song and great grooves.

You’ve probably heard some of their tracks on Double J, like the hypnotic, slow-building “Paddling,” where nervous guitar stabs punctuate a motorized groove while singing. Judge Ollie cries “don’t push me” to a frenetic, all-in climax.

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Light green field is so accomplished and full of ideas that it’s hard to believe it’s Squid’s first album. But that can be a lot to take in at first, so here are some things to help you understand their sound.

Squids have a singing drummer but they also like to swap instruments

Beating the kit while singing isn’t easy, but it still results in unique songs. (Spider, anyone?) Squid continues the tradition with Ollie Judge, who is one of the most expressive vocalists around.

He yelps, talks and shouts in a way reminiscent of David Byrne, LCD audio systemby James Murphy and Mark E. Smith of The fall.

“Ollie’s voice is characterized by volume and definition,” says Louis, who says the band’s focus on stretching out grooves and ideas was important in helping Ollie develop his voice and was influenced by Krautrock.

“The beautiful monotony of this style lends itself so well to this kind of almost metronomic pulsing electronic feel,” Louis says.

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German Krautrock Heroes Can also had a huge influence on the band. “Jaki Liebezeit de Can said it was this ability, to focus only on the monotonous…

“There’s a tremendous amount of freedom within that.”

“…because it gives you such an ability to just lay an idea in the ground and just keep driving it and use an awful lot of time to make fine adjustments to an overall idea. It’s a style of play which promotes the ability to be very expressive with other parts of your body while playing the drums.”

This sense of freedom extends to who plays which instrument. Ollie does most of the lyrics and vocals, but Louis and Anton Pearson (Squid’s other guitarist) also does vocals.

“Changing instruments and parts is what we’ve always done. We always want to work in new ways that feel new to us…playing instruments we don’t know how to play.”

Light green field is influenced by science fiction themes

Squid described the album as existing in an imaginary cityscape where the songs sketch the places therein.

With COVID lockdowns making cities around the world dysfunctional and eerily quiet, Squid recorded Bright green field in isolation, his head filled with dystopian futures and climatic disasters.

They were particularly inspired by troubled science fiction writer Anna Kavan and her 1967 book, Ice. “It sounds very much like a novel now with some sort of impending environmental armageddon.”

Squid’s dissonant and unsettling juggernaut “Peel St.” is named after the West London street where Anna Kavan died, after allegedly taking enough heroin to kill the whole damn street!

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Bees, bells and a medieval instrument

Squid’s experimentation goes beyond the five members of the group. Odd textures and manipulated terrain records abound on Bright green field

“We sampled a metal door, [there’s] a big choir of about 30 voices from our friends, and church bells around the corner during a storm that sound pretty good,” Louis notes.

Then there’s the buzz of bees on the ‘Resolution Square’ opener, which was recorded during lockdown.

“Anton noticed this strange noise when he was back at his parents’ house last year.”

“He heard this kind of buzzing coming from the wall and felt the wall vibrate, then put on a contact microphone and realized that it’s a special almost ritual that bees do – something to do with bees. worker bees that leave after having had some communication with the queen bee housed there.”

There is also the 17th century instrument played in the heyday of “Boy Racer”. “Arthur’s [keys] dad played racquet. It is a very beautiful medieval instrument which has a particular quality of resonance. And we took a synth line that had a load of MIDI data assigned to it and kind of put that into an electronic realm.”

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Squid’s music makes you want to dance

Despite all the experimentation and improvisation, at the heart of Squid is a love of rhythm; music that just makes you want to move.

“Our rhythmic inspiration comes from dance music, like going to clubs and listening to an amazing DJ,” says Louis.

“We also love drum-based music from around the world, especially North African music. on a sort of pulse that always feels responsible. change. It’s very important to us.

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Ultimately, Squid’s kaleidoscopic sound was born out of their unique chemistry and openness to all the musical ideas that arise when they play together.

“I think the kind of special formula that makes us happy to write music together is the fact that we have a unique connectivity, in the sense that there’s never a formed idea that walks into a room. writing or a studio and becomes a song. It’s still a super-embryonic thing that has a lot of potential to spark off one way or another…”

“None of us in the band have ever been particularly protective of a role. There’s literally no rhyme or reason – it’s all very improvisational.”

Listen to Karen Leng on Curated, Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. on Double J


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