Unsure about what your 10 picks for #65bangsofstatic should be? No worries, I’ve called in some experts to help out!
Today’s top 10 is picked by Dave “That’s still not in tune” Sanderson, the man with the biggest influence on 65’s sound aside from the band members themselves. For over a decade, he’s been the go-to guy when 65 needed an audio engineer, producer or mixer. We’ve heard his work on incredible albums like Wild Light and replicr, 2019, and most recently on all of the EPs in the Year of Wreckage project.
Dave also added this message to his top 10:
I hope this was, I dunno, a bit informative, a bit of an insight into the bands record making process and worth some time to read. Thanks to Chris at 65republic for getting in touch and asking the contributors and collaborators to submit their top tens. Take care all.
Onwards to the Dave Sanderson top 10!
10. Sleepwalk City
Shouldnʼt really be last and in reality itʼs very difficult indeed to put these tracks in any order and I feel a little bad that I’ve failed to mention so much of this bands incredible catalogue. Maybe one day a full retrospective is due, to which Iʼll contribute some more info. But, I have to admit as time goes on as with most people, my memory doesnʼt serve me particularly well! What I do remember of this track is that it had a rather difficult birth! For most of this record (Wild Light) we allocated a day per song to explore the stuff that had already been worked on (mainly electronics) and add the live instruments, but this one we had to keep coming back to on several occasions. Ordinarily, we wouldʼve probably just abandoned it but something kept drawing us back. Very pleased we did as it spawned an awesome A/V installation that when I saw it gave me a lump in my throat, it was of such splendour!
Given the somewhat disturbing subject matter inherent throughout ‘Replicr2019ʼ, trackerplatz seems very much like a fitting final track. Even though as a piece it is very accomplished, the mood of the track is one of deep uncertainty bordering on despair. During recording, the track went through various incarnations but it felt as we were heading towards a completed arrangement that this track summed up the mood of the whole record. The mix Tony Doogan and the band achieved only served to heighten that emotion further, making this possibly one of the most emotive tracks in the 65 catalogue.
The opening track of ‘We Were Exploding Anywayʼ a huge return to form for the band and one that if truth be known had a shaky start. Iʼm sure most 65 fans are aware of that so I will leave that for now. Incredible drumming from Rob in this track establishes the album as a new dawn for the band. It features more programmed elements than previous releases, some of which proved to be quite challenging to integrate with the live instruments, but in the end Mountainhead provides an optimistic and powerful start to what is quite frankly an incredible piece of work. Although I struggled to get my head around it at first, Alex Newportʼs mix totally stands the test of time and adds to the sense of urgency this album undoubtedly wants to convey.
A remnant from ‘replicrʼ when mixing the final EP for the U/U Vol 4 A Year Of Wreckage project, it was nice to hear this track again. A piece that didnʼt quite work at the time or make it onto ‘replicrʼ, there was definitely something there. So, when presented with this updated version, it was great to hear it stand its own ground. An almost classical lament, the way the sounds and overlapping/echoing melodic structures create a mournful soundscape is kind of satisfying and frustrating at the same time.
I remember quite well first hearing this track when we were working on ‘No Manʼs Skyʼ and thinking, as we were preparing some of the electronic elements to track live instruments, that yea….this is a cool track. Then at 3‘04 BOOM! head taken off!! Such a strong melodic and rhythmical motif. The power of the drums and how the melody’s subtle changes over the course of the track draw you into the universe like the game tried so hard to do… This track sounds like standing at a precipice on an uncharted planet waiting to discover a new way of existing…..much like the inspiration behind the titleʼs namesake managed to achieve in his output.
5. Heat Death Infinity Splitter
This track has very fond memories for me. The album that this track opens was the one where the band and I worked in another studio, other than 2Fly Studios in Sheffield, for the first time. We headed out to The Chapel Studio in Thorseby, Lincolnshire for a couple of weeks, to record what would be our 3rd full record of working together. This track in a way has a similar function to ‘Debutanteʼ in that it signifies a change for the band to me. I think the previous project ,‘Silent Runningʼ, had a large influence on where the band wanted to head compositionally. HDIS has a much more languid and deliberate feel than much of their previous material. Layered and strong, this paved the way for a new, more diverse 65 that was growing with every new project.
Although there are no real typical 65 payoffs or huge aggressive ‘tear your face off’ moments in this track, its sense of suspense and reservedness is so emotive. Again, this plays to the strengths that were learnt from both previous albums and compositional experiments. The sounds and textures from the very deep, almost subsonic lows to the glassy highs of the melodic phrases, although never fully turning into what one expects, are each an incredible journey into a tantalizing expression of musical restraint.
3. Bad Age
From the last record ‘replicr, 2019ʼ. Much of this record was a culmination of what had been learnt from the band’s A/V installations and experiments with algorithms to explore different ways of making music. Still, realizing that a human with taste has to be the moderator when using such technologies, the band incorporated the element of micro-tuning beautifully and also very stealthily in the record. Without realizing it, this tune is not of equal temperament, yet has a totally natural melodic feel. Also, the rhythmical and harmonic structures are wonderful examples of a set of creative people in full flow. It took a minute to get this to fully comply but when it came together the result is one of total elegance.
This has everything. A beautiful, delicate opening that pulls at the heart strings, then some subtle indicators that somethingʼs gonna change then SMACK…..the full force of the band echoing those delicate melodies but with an intensity and honesty only they can achieve. Even though ‘Silent Runningʼ was commissioned for The Glasgow Film Festival and never a fully fledged 65 record, I think this allowed the band to be more experimental and search out that new direction that was evident in tracks such as ‘Debutanteʼ from the record prior to this. The sense of anticipation and adventure in this track is palpable. It feels exactly like it should.
My first involvement with recording 65 on my own was the album that was to become known as ‘We Were Exploding Anywayʼ. This track in particular I loved from the album, and is one that always stuck in my head. Whenever I think of the band and the making of that record, this is the track I recollect. In part because it was perhaps the first track we worked on for the album and a turning point for the band. Going from post-rock to something else less definable but ultimately more expansive. There is a very hopeful feel to this track and considering what had come before with this record to get to where it was, it needed to be. Even though the start is a little sombre, once the shift occurs to the beautiful chord progression and interweaving melodies of the choir vocal and guitar, the track just pulls you in. The middle section that for a moment changes key and feel towards more of what you expect from 65, then to be dragged back into the warmth of the choir and rhythmic solidity, itʼs hard not to listen till the end.
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!