On VHS is the latest release from instrumental rockers The Fierce And The Dead. It may only be an EP of four tracks but they are a pretty damned fine four tracks! Damned fine tracks which at times conjure forth echoes of the 1980s incarnation of King Crimson (Oh, my!) and at others the post-rock modernity of Mogwai.
On VHS is the follow-up to If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe and it shows that TFATD are both here to stay and set to offer a heckuva lot more than most. So let’s have a closer look at this latest serving.
The opening track 666…6 burns through a tension building 30 second fuse before bursting into incandescent life. Bright, rippling guitar textures trade-off against a galloping chorus in which bass, guitar and drums pound out the signature riff, giving birth to an infectious earworm of a groove. As you tap your feet and nod your head in time, really getting into that groove, bang! … the dynamic changes and you find yourself adrift in an atmospheric trance of synth sounds and occasional muted guitar. Time to chill out and … bang! That immense signature riff is back.
Hawaii keeps the tempo up, its bouncing drum and bass backing provides a broad canvas for the guitar to surf across. The track ends with a cool and nicely laid-back coda, which may (but probably doesn’t) give the track its name, for here the guitar takes on a twangy-slidy-thang (wtf?) tone which called to mind (well, to mine anyway) a distinct Hawaiian sound.
Third of four is the title track, On VHS, which starts with a crisp guitar intro which is soon augmented by bass and drums. On this occasion, though, they remain more in the backgound allowing the guitar to shine and take the lead. And lead it does, shimmering and phasing through a series of swoops and eddies that carry you to another place and time. Whether that place and time are those of the humble VHS tape will depend very much on your imagination.
The EP’s closing track, the anthemic Part 3, is a slow-burning post-rock sort of affair. It builds through a series of more delicate themes to a powerful and uplifting crescendo. The sound, perhaps, of rocket boosters propelling The Fierce And The Dead spaceship out of the Earth’s gravity well and into the star strewn spaces beyond.
I like this one and look forward to whatever TFATD cook up next. Though I’ll be hoping for a few more courses on that menu!