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After a decade of growth, Koreless hits home with a stunning debut LP full of arpeggiated restlessness and soundscape vistas which seem to stretch over the horizon. A work of true beauty.

  • Artist
    Squid
    ReleaseProduct
    Bright Green Field
    Label
    Warp Records
    Catalogue Number
    WARPCDD314
    Release Date
    May 7, 2021

    Bundles

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    • Black vinyl:

      $29.99
      • Bright Green Field Vinyl, 2×LP Black vinyl

      • Squid Slipmat Slipmat

      • Bleep exclusive slipmat limited to 200

      Available: December 3, 2021

    British post-punk is having its strongest moment in decades. The cyclical nature of trends means a resurgence was always on the cards, but the generational clock has reset differently this time around. Unlike the mid-00s guitar band boom, which propelled some genuine originals on a fast-track to success in the slipstream of indie’s mass popularity, today’s cadre of acts — who, alongside Squid, includes Dry Cleaning, black midi and Black Country, New Road — face less charitable conditions. They are emboldened to push their sound farther out to the fringes, so the quality has ratcheted up as a result.

    Squid’s strength is multifaceted. Musically, they step like descendents of one-album wonders like Clor and Late Of The Pier, who were gleeful of rhythm and mathematical of structure - they even mirror Warp’s own Battles in a few ways, too. Each of Squid’s five members is in perpetual motion, although not necessarily heading in the same direction 100% of the time. Ollie Judge, a welcome addition to the small list of lead vocalists who perch off the edge of their drum stool, ties it together with impunity. On ‘Paddling’ he comes off like a carnival barker holding a BSc in theoretical physics, crying “Don’t push me in!” over and over as riffs coil upward and eyes roll back in their head.

    Lyrically, “Bright Green Field” paints a delightful picture of living in Britain: kettled by reality, nationhood reduced to a spat over passport colour, staring at Westminister voting intention polls showing Conversative numbers rising and going absolutely fucking crackers at the intractable stagnancy of it all. It’s fair to say Squid are doomers through and through.

    And yet, it’s a wryly funny listen. The group’s grim fascination with banality means most people’s initial exposure to their creed will be ‘G.S.K.’, a mocking paean to worshipping the sun as it reflects off Brentford’s enormous GlaxoSmithKline headquarters. There’s a tactical wink in naming a song ‘Global Groove’ then ensuring it lurches through a rant about a world where people consume wars like sitcoms and let their brains rot on a Peloton. Squid have a canny knack at making the abstruse universal.

    Nowhere does “Bright Green Field” punch harder than the early 1-2 of ‘Narrator’ and ‘Boy Racers’. As the former reaches fever pitch, the band and guest Martha Skye Murphy burst out of the song’s Motorik pulse into one of the most deliriously extra codas in recent memory. You quickly lose track of who’s screaming: Murphy, Judge, or the instruments.

    They take a split second to disentangle, then dive into a twitchy beat which wouldn’t sound out of place on a James Chance or This Heat record from 1981. Moments later, the band are recast as Tortoise Mk.II, running through a sticky interplay like ‘Djed’-i knights, before being smelted into the bleakest phase of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor show. And why not? The cumulative effect is 16 minutes without equal on any other record released this year. You’d imagine Squid are the only ones bold enough to try, and skilled enough to pull it off.

    Through all this, with no streaming-friendly track lengths nor concessions to the BBC Live Lounge, “Bright Green Field” still managed to crack the top 5 of the UK album charts, and inspire sold-out tours on both sides of the Atlantic. Blistering noise onslaughts, lashings of funk and jazz, garbled non-sequiturs, niche 16th century instruments and a hive of bees combine to make a crown jewel of the new freak scene. Squid’s lucid and deeply satisfying collagist approach harks back to countless avant- and alt-heroes of years past, without ever feeling like slavish retromania. The kids aren’t coming up from behind anymore — they’re miles out in front.

    Digital Tracklist

    1. 1 Resolution Square 0:40 Buy

      Resolution Square

    2. 2 G.S.K. 3:10 Buy
    3. 3 Narrator 8:28 Buy
    4. 4 Boy Racers 7:34 Buy
    5. 5 Paddling 6:15 Buy
    6. 6 Documentary Filmmaker 4:55 Buy

      Documentary Filmmaker

    7. 7 2010 4:28 Buy
    8. 8 The Flyover 1:10 Buy
    9. 9 Peel St. 4:52 Buy
    10. 10 Global Groove 5:06 Buy
    11. 11 Pamphlets 8:03 Buy

Ten years in the making, and six years removed from the last release proper as Koreless, Lewis Roberts makes good on his evident promise with a stunning debut album. “Agor” is akin to an infinitely-looping GIF which zooms past molecular level and comes out the other side, opening up to an entire whole universe.

Carefully-considered sound design was always something which set Roberts apart as a producer, even when his singles at the start of the 2010s were closer in thrust to 'post-dubstep’s grand rearrangement. In 2013, Roberts’ EP “Yūgen” switched into a different lane than his contemporaries, focusing on rippling, weightless compositions that were typically played out by DJs as a dramatic set opener or curtain-closer. The record was slightly ahead of what contemporary audiences pined for, but discerning listeners could detect Roberts’ fastidious attention to detail would lead to somewhere perfect in time. “Agor” is that record.

Already a musician for whom visual descriptors fit best — the temptation to call the music here ‘cinematic’ is overwhelming — on “Agor” seems as if Roberts’ music has taken potential cues from an audiovisual collaboration he worked on and toured alongside Emmanuel Biard. Spending time inside the album feels like sticking a hand out into dappled light, or seeing lasers arc and slice through the air. It’s uncanny, rousing and serene all in one.

Through lush pads, rippling Roberts' tone mastery is a marvel. On the album’s opening suite, juxtaposition is a constant: ‘Yonder’ begins with a sub-zero atmosphere before thawing it out, rolling into the pensive ‘Black Rainbow’ and its de facto coda, ‘Primes’, one of many expository interludes that contain recurring leitmotifs, helping to bridge the album’s phases and maintain the spell.

‘Joy Squad’ is the hit many Koreless fans were holding out for; an early version was circulated amongst artists like Jamie XX, Oli XL and Caribou, all of whom treasured it like an opulent heirloom, only allowing flashes and glimpses on rare occasions. The song is both highlight and outlier, all scanning torches and unresolved tension, accentuated by moments of calm. Even when Roberts flirts with the darkside, he can’t help but remain in light.

Whether employing micro-spliced vocal samples or digitised instruments, there is a clarity at play reminiscent of hearing a bell chime underwater. ‘White Picket Fence’ and ‘Act(s)’ have an almost prairie quality to them, wide and flat synth-vistas with only a bone chill for company. You can draw parallels to Lorenzo Senni’s self-anointed pointillistic trance, Barker’s drum-devoid anthems, Oneohtrix Point Never circa “R Plus Seven” or Gobby’s medieval dalliances — yet Roberts endeavours to keep it simple. A good chunk of the time spent working on “Agor” must have been committed to refinement and reduction, forever tinkering with the album’s composite parts, gesturing toward the shadow of an object unseen.

“Agor” rounds out with ‘Strangers’, which feels informed by Autechre’s timeless “Amber” closers, ‘Yulquen’ and ‘Nil’. That’s not a comparison we employ lightly. Forget cinematic — this is the sound of waking up on an alien planet and coming to terms with an entirely different ecosystem. Just as grass forces through mesh on “Agor”’s cover, Roberts finds a way to bind the synthetic and organic, creating a tactile whole. Nothing else in 2021 sounded quite like it.

Bleep Album of the Year Exclusive

Made especially for you, Young have created an exclusive end of year edition

Glow in the dark vinyl
Bespoke screen printed polybag sleeve
Limited to 500

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