Friday, September 01, 2006Remnants of British Rail
Last week I found myself at a shoegazing club on Old Street at the Sonic Cathedral night at The Legion. I always forget that shoegazing music is pretty much 80% noise and feedback. This meant that waiting for iLiKETRAiNS to come on stage was a long and painful process and I sorely regretted my decision not to bring earplugs, just to reduce the music down a few decibels. The wait was worth it for iLiKETRAiNS, a majestic Leeds five-piece with a fixation on British engineering and human expedition. They took to the stage in train conductor's jackets, dressed as though they'd finished sixth form in 2000 and been cryogenically frozen since then, it was sweet. The stage was littered with FX pedals and instruments, but their sound was much cleaner than the amount of eqipment would have suggested.
Dave Martin's vocals are intense, powerful and fit perfectly with the music. A lazy (yet effective) comparison would be to Paul Banks of Interpol, they both have an inexplicable sadness in their deep, haunting voices. Musically, too, there are similarities which can be easily drawn; gloomy, poignant guitar-driven indie with nods back to My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division. But they are very much their own band, which is why they aren't being tossed in the bargain bin with all the other copyists. Their romanticisation of 20th century exploration and invention sets them out from the crowd and appeals to the many who also find these notions romantic. The Beeching Report, for example, is about Dr Beeching who was responsible for the Beeching Report which decided the closing of many of Britain's railways in the 1960s and 1970s in favour of the building of more motorways. The song is a bitter response to this, with a menacing and sad "reform, reform, oh you are taking apart what we made with our hands and our hearts" constituting the chorus, showing an attachment to the past and the efforts of the railway workers.
In some respects it could come across as a bit try-hard, a group of people trying to find a niche and, on paper, it could seem like it would be hard to relate to, but such is the sincerity of the feeling when they perform live, that you know, whatever it is that they are singing about, means a lot to them. They don't say very much, instead letting the music and the motions do the talking. They ended up with an orgy of noise and feedback, all pedals go, like the end of the world as they knew it.