Unsure about what your 10 picks for #65bangsofstatic should be? No worries, I’ve called in some experts.
I was only going to include people who have worked with the band in some capacity in this series, but I was so touched about what Alina had to say about the band’s music, that I decided to add her stories here.
A lot of you probably know who Alina is from the 65-community, or from the live chats or meet-ups at shows, but I’ll allow her to introduce herself here:
I’m Alina Morse, your average Russian twenty-something 65kid who has followed 65 for some of their live shenanigans and had had some amazing times with the guys and their music during the past 6 years. I help run a russian fan community at vk.com/russian65kids and enjoy occasionally making some 65-related content. 65 influenced me heavily during my teen years and continue to do so now, introducing me to lots of new amazing movies, books, friendships, activities and, of course, music. So I’ve had a lot to say about my top-10, and even though the end result doesn’t capture a tenth of what I could share about the band, I enjoyed writing it a lot, so thanks Tofr for this opportunity!
You can find me pretty much everywhere @wildlighted if you’re interested.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the story of WWEA’s cover art, a track-by-track Wild Light DiSsection at Drowned In Sound and the Bleak Strategies podcast if you haven’t yet! It provides some context for my ramblings, not to mention simply being fun to read/listen to and having some amazing stories about the creation of music we love.
Check out her top 10 right here! It’s a real trip through 65’s entire career, and it features some incredibly poetic words from Paul himself.
10 Piano Fights
I probably like this one so much because it got me into 65 after three years of lowkey liking them. It popped up on shuffle and blew my mind with sheer concentrated light within it. The urgency, the sense of sweeping along, of exploding — all my metaphors for 65 come to mind during the slow-burn crescendo of this track. It leaves me in tears almost every listen with just how much hope, how much color and life there is in it, especially knowing a bit about this record’s creation and its beautifully human message.
9 AOD (Retreat! Retreat!)
Even though it’s a very early track, I think it would fit well somewhere on Wild Light. It’s fairly straightforward and extremely effective at the same time — it doesn’t hold back, the emotion here is pure and sharp, and it lingers long after the track fades out with its quiet, vulnerable guitar. It encapsulates everything I love about songs like Fix The Sky a Little or Install a Beak in the Heart, which didn’t make this list only because AOD did the same and did it first.
It was a highlight to hear the guys close the set with it, especially as it was the gig six months after I asked Joe why they never play it anymore and he told me they just kind of forgot about it 😉
8 Zero, In Zero
I’ve loved this track not only before its recorded release, but even before I first heard it live during Decomposition Theory v.3 tour — I bookmarked and rewatched tons of insta posts with snippets of it back when it was Header in the setlist, absolutely captivated by the beats boiling with energy and the sprawling synths like strong wind in your face. I danced to this song three days in a row on that tour, replayed it in my head for half a year until its final release in Kazimir EP and think this is just beautiful writing, captivating and detailed, energizing and making you dance without being lighthearted.
I’ve been missing 65 doing soundscapes since the second record of NMS, but AYOW returned with some beautiful, beautiful ones. This track is a highlight of the entire subscription for me with how reserved but absolutely terrifying it is. The slow, distant hum, the cold ambiance behind it, the main phrase wobbling and disintegrating but also picking up those trembling, hopeful tones in the background as the song progresses. You don’t notice it, but the pain and the confusion and the cold creep inside, and that’s maybe one of the only 65 songs when they let you sit with all of it and decide if you’re gonna thread forward through the surreal exvironment.
An underappreciated tune from Wild Light that I adore so much I decided to forego the punching opener Heat Death Infinity Splitter, the iconic Sleepwalk City, and the glorious Safe Passage only to share my love for it. It’s abrasive from the very first note, and at first I thought it lacked tenderness and humanity I love so much in this album — but as the walls of noise come and go like waves on a stormy day, there is always this melodic, transparent thing behind them, making me feel every movement of sound so acutely my heart clenches almost physically.
I hope the guys find a way to finally bring the song into the live set as it truly deserves it.
This track punched me right in the gut as a set opener on the Decomposition Theory tour. It felt like 65 did what defined them in the beginning, but in a new and better way — the rushing noisy guitars of this song are so frenetic it felt like I heard Retreat! Retreat! for the first time all over again, only with the added layer of experience and growth over it, making it so much more touching to me. This song is like my teenage self looks at me through a layer of sound and says, hey, the weight is so much more now, so much shit you see, but I’m still in here to be your open eyes, so you don’t turn cynical and hopeless. And she gets through to me with every beat and every note.
4 Bad Age
From rough and dark sonically and visually DT-tour-draft of what became Bad Age to the rougher and darker song on the record, this track is one of the absolute best I ever heard from the band both live and recorded, and it feels like it was high time the guys finally produced a song like this one. The pulsing rhythm you can never quite catch but can’t help but memorise knocking the ground from under you, the menace seeping through with every cycle of the melody until you don’t know if it’s pulling you under its own darkness or letting your suppressed anger surface, fill you with determination and make you go on just out of spite for this bad age surrounding you — all of it is mindblowing.
Another song I was in awe of since first hearing it on DT tour as C#Droner. There isn’t much going on, but shit, does the song absolutely drain you by the end! It is, essentially, a one-note vibration repeated over and over again with barely discernible melody in the back, but how it picks up more and more force until it finally crushes you fully by the middle of the track, absolutely overflowing with distortion and weight, is just insane. Giving a recorded version my first listen at midnight in almost total darkness of my bedroom I couldn’t help but cry, unable to blink or breathe, and this is exactly the uncompromising cathartic drone I wanted to hear from 65 for so long.
Everything about this track screams how much work went into the album, the video, the process behind it. I adore that Prisms is such a chameleon — you can dance to it, you can be lifted up, scared or amazed by it, it never feels out of place, and it’s simply beautiful to hear. Never once was I bored by this song — new tiny details, sounds, beats come to my attention every now and then. The whole song is just so well thought-out, feeling new and fresh as a standalone, fitting and carrying you as a part of Wild Light, and smashing the crowd live with how big, certain, full of emotion this is. I still don’t quite know what to make of it, sometimes gaining courage from its sound, sometimes being almost broken by the desperate undertones, but that’s the best part. It’s such a human song, despite the aesthetics full of tech, and it is very dear to me.
1 The Undertow
This song is probably my most personal link to the band’s music, so much so that it’s hard to talk about it. I can’t count how many times I listened to it when I was so far gone I barely felt anything at all, and it always pulled me back and gave me the tiniest something to hold on to. I can’t count how many times I listened to it when I was so happy I could burst, looking at the darkening sky out of the bus window, thinking of people I loved, feeling with every cell how alive I am and how I want to live.
The song’s climax knocks the air out of me every time even if I know it by heart at this point. Something this vulnerable, this open is borderline painful to experience. It feels — not exactly bigger than life, rather exactly as big as human life really is, brimming with everything you ever felt and thought.
When I cried my eyes out to the final fragile sounds of the song, first experiencing it live, Paul looked straight at me from the stage and smiled. After the show, I asked him, how do you manage to smile after this monster of a track, and his reply is exactly why this song would be the only song I would save if I had to choose, and why 65 will never lose meaning to me no matter what happens.
So, how do you do it, I asked.
“Well, because it’s ended, and you are still here.”
Don’t forget to share your own top 10, by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org or sharing it on twitter using the #65bangsofstatic hashtag! The final date to send them in is May 6th!