So this one kind of snuck by me. Last year, 65daysofstatic did a live soundtrack to the 1970s sci-fi filmSilent Running. It’s basically an environmental ‘what if?’ film, where all plant life on Earth died. Probably because people were a bit silly. I’ve not actually seen it, but if there’s one thing I do well, it’s wikipedia the crap out of things. My degree mark can attest to that.
Anywho, I think I vaguely remember them touring it a while ago and I seem to remember thinking that I couldn’t be bothered to go if they weren’t playing a proper show. They released a studio version of the soundtrack last November due to popular demand, but there was relatively little fanfare around it. Listening to it now, I feel pretty good about my decision to stay home that time, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad record.
It’s interesting that 65 have finally got in to the film scoring business, as the band supposedly originally got together to do the soundtrack for a Kurt Russell film called Stealth Bomber. The film and the soundtrack never materialised, and it’s one of those things where, even though the band have said it themselves, you’re still never sure if it’s true, like any time anyone asks Chumbawamba where their name comes from. The choice of an environmentally themed film is interesting too – it’s hard for instrumental bands to get vocal about an issue for really obvious reasons, but 65 have often attempted to push some kind of environmental message, with the video for ‘Radio Protector’ coming to mind.
65 have changed a lot since their first album, 2004’s The Fall Of Math. They’ve always been attached to the post-rock genre and have frequently flaunted their electronic influences, but the electronics felt increasingly ignored as they made a couple of much less interesting rock records. Then, on their fourth full length, 2010’s We Were Exploding Anyway, they pretty much just seemed to say “fuck it”, ditching all the post-rock clichés, chucking out a whole load of guitars, and basically making a vaguely post-rock influenced dance record, and you can tell it was the one they’d wanted to make all along. A dense, frantic, pulsating masterpiece, it transformed their live shows from head-nodding affairs to full on dance parties, so how would a live experience where you actually have to stay still mesh with the new sound? Would they be doing something altogether new?
Silent Running is somewhat in the same vein as …Exploding…, with an emphasis on electronics and pianos rather than guitars, but just a little more low-key. It’s made to be background music, and that’s what it does – sinks in to the background in a very relaxing fashion. I can imagine it complemented the film very well, with a seriously eerie mood taking hold for the most part. Tension and restraint is a big part of the record, making the slightly louder parts really stand out and command attention for a few minutes, before settling down in to being creepy again. ‘Finale’ in particular is big and loud, a great crashing ending that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last record. It’s probably the band’s most ambient record to date though, and it is interesting to see their take on it, as ambience is often an important part of both the post-rock and electronic genres. It’s not a patch on Exploding’s dancey beats, but it’s definitely of more interest than the phoned-in and bored post-rocking of The Destruction Of Small Ideas. Silent Running is yet another different side to 65daysofstatic, and it’s great to know that even after eight years, they’ve still got plenty of tricks hidden away up their sleeves. But I hope this isn’t a direction they’ll head in too often, and I wouldn’t relish the thought of seeing about 90% of this material live, even if I did have the chance to see it with the film. If I’m seeing 65daysofstatic, I want to be dancing until I can’t stand up anymore, please.