Squid, based in Brighton, have built up a head of steam as part of a loosely aligned set of guitar bands that have coalesced around south London venue The Windmill, a crucial hub in the city’s reviving underground-rock scene. Others include Black Midi and Black Country, New Road. Shared attributes are a taste for volume and intensity, but not as a macho endurance test. Collective acts of musicianship and improvisation are valued. Switchbacks interrupt the momentum. Stylised vocals, yelled or drawled, betray suspicion about the role of the voice as the source of authority in a song.
Produced by Dan Carey, a hinge figure in this scene, Bright Green Field is Squid’s debut album. It’s named after a surreal short story by avant-garde writer Anna Kavan, whose London address also furnishes the title of one of its tracks, “Peel St”. JG Ballard is the inspiration for “GSK”, an account of driving erratically on a flyover past GlaxoSmithKline’s west London headquarters. “Narrator” dramatises a male author losing control over his fictional text to a female character. She is played by guest singer Martha Skye Murphy, at first with a whisper, then a scream. Meanwhile, Squid’s vocalist-drummer Ollie Judge hollers dementedly about being his own narrator.
He and his bandmates — guitarists Louis Borlase and Anton Pearson, keyboardist Arthur Leadbetter, bassist Laurie Nankivell — make for an inquisitive, dynamic outfit. Squiggly guitars criss-cross in songs like hairline fractures. Tightly channelled rhythms recall the “motorik” pulse of Neu!, while passages of madly jittery funk place the band in a post-punk tradition. The vocals are overcooked, but they are a challenge worth meeting. Attention is rewarded by songs brimming with ideas and energy.
‘Bright Green Field’ is released by Warp