Poly-Math, Kylver and Altostratus at Little Buildings: Live Review
Words and Photos: Anthony Firmin
Sometimes you just have to travel to see the artists you want to, and Newcastle is a place I love and have visited many times, mainly to see bands at the iconic City Hall, but also at other venues like the long gone Mayfair, and The Cluny always make the journey worthwhile. Tonight’s show being promoted by ‘Confusion Is Next’ at a relatively newish venue called Little Buildings. And by ‘little’ they really do mean little, the bar is about the size of my bathroom and the venue is just a little bit bigger than my living room, definitely cosy, especially when there are 50 bodies squeezed into it. I can now see why they were insistent about buying a ticket in advance, this must have been a sell out. However, an evening of instrumental music awaits…
Altrostatus have just started their 45 minute slot when I arrive for set that is pure math rock, moving between a heavier, almost djent style which oscillates nicely with gentle Plini type grooves. It is infectious and pleasing and these kids are very good. Andrew Smith, their bass player, whose head almost touches the floor as he headbangs away whilst pumping away at his 5 string bass, impresses and is clearly a focal point against the studious guitarists Alex Hek and Jordan Harris who know precisely when to drive forward and when to step back with their playing.
Interestingly they only play one track, Eclipse, from their debut EP Altitude which shows they have so much more to offer. The final piece they play is about the humble avocado, entitled Persea Americana, showing they have a sense of humour. I was enamoured by them, enjoying everything they played, and look forward to seeing them in Manchester in the future. What is also great is that they had a large crowd watching and supporting them, a crowd who stay for the whole evening.
I make no bones about my love for Kylver, The Island is a solid favourite from the last couple of years so it is an absolute pleasure to see them live again and even better in such an intimate and cosy setting. Their start is delayed as the stage is so small they have to set up all their keyboards from scratch, nothing can be left on the stage, it is that small.
Their new keyboard player has settled in well as the band are prepping new material and get ready to record their next album. Their music is deep and droney with the Hammond organ washing around the riffs. The band only manage to play three pieces all of which glide along and effortlessly merge into each other. There is prominent use of the Theremin too, even being driven at times by the head of the bass guitar. A couple of tracks from The Mountain Ghost are truly wonderful and a new unnamed piece has me excited for their next release. Only three tracks played, but oh wow!
Finally there is Poly-Math, a band we have hosted at one of our Progathon’s in the past, whose release earlier in the year showed they are not holding back. And tonight is their first ever show in Newcastle for their dissonant rhythms and funky progginess. From their gurning bass player Joe Branton who is quite possibly the UK’s equivalent of Jaco Pastorius to their newly acquired keyboard player, everything about this band screams excellence as their stunning musicianship breathes life into their heavy math rock. I enjoyed them immensely at ArcTanGent but tonight finds them on incredibly determined form, possibly driven by the funeral of Dan Wild-Beesley of Cleft which was held yesterday, a man who was a huge part of this scene. They decide not to cover one of Cleft’s songs as a tribute because they felt they are not good enough, praise indeed for such a great band.
A fair wodge of Poly-Math’s set is drawn from their latest release – House of Wisdom/We are The Devil - and they bound straight into 1258, the keyboards being much more to the fore and adding a lot of colour and nuances to the music. Branton was so into the music he was swinging his bass around fairly wildly, all the band were well into it to be fair. A small mosh pit even developed during Ekerot, one of my favourite Poly-Math tracks.
Everyone was hot and sweaty at the end of the evening, some of whom hung around with the bands afterwards to chat and drink shots of Messer Schmitt, Buckfast and gin and tonics… messy, but what a great way to end a great evening.