Trouble Books, In Atoms, Michael Egan, Echoland: Wolstenholme Creative Space

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Bleepy distortion, looped six-string pulses, a local lyrical poet, glitchy breakbeats, a spot of electronic hypnosis and synth-imbued star-gazing all within the confines of a warehouse decorated with sculptures. Getintothis’ Will Fitzpatrick avoids sensory overload to listen on intently.


Maybe it’s the nature of the Super Best Friends‘ exhibition which shares the venue with this show, but things feel odd tonight.
A little off-kilter, maybe even a little frivolous? Whatever. The walls are bedecked with David Shrigley-esque illustrations, while trash-pop sculptures are to be found everywhere in the space.
Finally, there’s a giant pink car made of wood, bearing the legend ‘DRAGSTER’, in the centre of the audience. Whether it’s supposed to be ironic, sincere or just plain daft, it really should be at odds with the musical offerings to come, but for some unidentifiable reason everything just about makes sense. Somehow.
New guitar’n’sampler duo Echoland are up first, and set the bar high for the rest of the evening. Harsh electronic blasts are married to subtly melodic, treated guitar tones, which are then looped and fed back into each other seamlessly.
Those guitar melodies may be discreet, but they’re quietly beautiful in a Windy And Carl sorta way, even amongst the other pulsating swathes of bleepy distortion.
There’s a slight mishap when a computer crashes, resulting in a jarring blast of noise, but one ‘sorry!’ later, things are swiftly resurrected. In fairness they could possibly have pulled it off as being deliberate, but never mind. Captivating stuff, and all too brief.
Local poet Michael Egan steps up next. It’s probably fair to say that poets are often viewed with suspicion at live music shows, much the same as rock bands would be at poetry nights, but Egan’s personable approach keeps the audience on his side.
Eschewing rhyme or conventional metre, he instead focuses on a gently lyrical approach that’s nonetheless heavy on metaphor and imagery. So yeh, he’s pretty good, which makes Getintothis feel pretty bad about including that earlier caveat in this paragraph. But again: whatever.
Song for Reinier Lucassen’s Sphinx by TrblBks
If you’ve ever wondered what Boards Of Canada might sound like if they ditched those glitchy breakbeats, then In Atoms might give you some idea.
Well, ok, that’s probably not the best comparison, although this is similarly pastoral electronica. But In Atoms’ sound is more considered, more textural and more expansive, making mincemeat of any superficial comparisons (bah!).
It certainly fits into the lineage of Eno-inspired electronic composers, with more than a few nods to a host of Kranky Records artists. It’s sad, hypnotic and beautiful – infinitely more expressive than you’d think anyone could manage with a knackered old keyboard, some effects units and a holy mess of dials.
Ultimately though, we’re here for Trouble Books, and they don’t disappoint.
Their set’s introduced by a clunking, arpeggiated sample, before a somnabulic guitar line creeps in and hushed voices coo sweet nothings underneath it all .
Yeh, so far so indietronica by numbers, right? But this Ohio twosome are utterly mesmerising – the deftness of the synths, the starry-eyed sprawl of those Doug Martsch-inspired guitars… it all fits together so effortlessly.
If you have to strain to hear the vocals behind all this dizzy stargazing, then so much the better – you’re just forcing yourself to listen harder. But then again you owe Trouble Books your full attention – music this spellbinding deserves nothing less.

Trouble Books: Abandoned Monorail Station from the 2010 album Gathered Tones.
Trouble Books.

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