- by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date: Label:
Has it really been a full three years since Hookworms released their second LP, The Hum? More to the point, has it been that long since I’ve seen them live? West Yorkshire’s finest punk-inspired, psych-rock adventurers made a very welcome return this month with ‘Negative Space’ from their forthcoming third album, Micoshift. They then followed this up by announcing a hometown show at The Brudenell Social Club (where else!). The world may be falling apart one news story at a time but this, at least, was good news. I’m a massive fan (as you all should be) so excited doesn’t quite cover it.
Before I take my place at the front like an overexcited teenage Beatles fan, we’re warmed-up with a set from local artist, Richard Formby. Music producer and electronic musician, Formby has also worked on the bands upcoming LP. The left hand corner of the stage is filled with vintage looking electronic kit, a reel-to-reel tape recorder spins as Formby sits twiddling the dials and knobs on the impressive interface in front of him. The set-up resembles the kind of ‘control room’ you’d see in an episode of Doctor Who.
A gradual drone builds and spills out into the room; subtle sound manipulation is the order of the day, the mood faintly ominous and hypnotic. At times the sound recalls the experiments of Throbbing Gristle, at others the sci-fi sound effects of The Radiophonic Workshop. It feels extra-special as it isn’t necessarily the kind of performance you’d expect at a show like this. Minds have definitely been blown.
It starts with just bassist and multi-instrumentalist MB, flicking the necessary switches and starting the squishy, electronic vibes that introduce ‘Negative Space’. Like a call-to-arms the rest of Hookworms join him on stage and the song starts to build its heart-racing momentum. While the lyrics sometimes suggest difficult times, the music is the most euphoric the band has ever sounded. Catchy, compulsive yet experimental; this is the sound of a band pushing forward into new and exciting pastures.
MJ’s vocals sound clear and confident- his voice and delivery as passionate as we’ve come to expect. SS’s guitar wails along, sounding positively heroic in the process. They follow ‘Negative Space’ with another new track and the results are equally fantastic. The band’s music has always been cathartic yet here it’s also starting to sound somewhat celebratory. Man, it’s good to have them back.
While recognisably the group that produced Hookworms, Pearl Mystic and The Hum, the new material takes great joy in expanding the bands electronic infuences. Beats and pulses run through the songs; you can almost hear the likes of Cluster’s Zuckerzeit LP playing somewhere in the mix as the band whip up a storm. The songs perfectly balance out their thirst for experimentation with some undeniably contagious hooks and melodies.
Of course, they weren’t going to play the Brudenell without giving us a few old family favourites. The likes of ‘Radio Tokyo’ and ‘The Impasse’ are delivered at a typically blistering pace. Dressed in a Dead Moon t-shirt and piling into his synth, MJ gives it absolutely everything he has. The band is firing on all cylinders and the psychedelic visuals that cover the back-wall make the experience all the more immersive. With the year gradually coming to a close, tonight’s triumphant performance points towards very good things to come in 2018.