22nd Feb 2013
This album has felt like a ghost for ages.
Something that died that people ask us about from time to time. So fuck it. Here it is. Stick it in your ear pipes nice and loud and think about what you were doing six or seven years ago. This is what we were.
Summer 2006 didn’t have a chance. Spent ‘05’s tearing around an empty boarding house and hoovering up the irresponsible quantities of bud commensurate with the start of a gap year, my safety net the fait accompli that I wasn’t going back to school in the autumn. That was the summer I first heard The Fool Looks At the Finger That Points To The Sky, a blurring tangle of wiry guitars with all the kinesis of a rocket launch that made me reassess the way I approached my instrument. Someone in The Little Explorer mentioned that they listened to bands like American Football. I’d never heard of American Football. Weird name. When I met Veeno in September and we started our own band, it was one of the first albums he lent me. But summer ‘06, nah, it was slate-grey and hot and the air was made of inescapable steaming pressure, and I knew my blessed days sleeping until practice were ending.
I went to university for three years and got a job and quit the band and quit the job and got another job. The Little Explorer surfaced in fits and starts. First the jawdropping dextra-core of Chair Legs, a loving marriage of tech and soul that I’ve rarely found an equal to, then the more subdued but no less excellent Spares and the news that The Little Explorer had split. I cottoned on to Crash of Rhinos and where they’d come from at the start of last year, which brings us up to yesterday, when The Little Explorer’s never-before-seen second full-length Siderali went up on bandcamp as a pay-what-you-like download, in celebration of the completion of the second Crash of Rhinos full-length (aside: YES).
Crash of Rhinos have since grown up, too; there’s none of the delay-drenched, post-rocky crescendos of 35 Summers on their 2011 post-hardcore revivalist banger Distal, and far fewer of the sandpaper-scrape yells that punctuated the sonic middle ground of their earlier outfit. But the Explorer never felt textbook. Lampshades For Neo-Tokyo comes on all screams, before you realise that the guitars are smashing out something jubilant and grinning for all their distortion. This is noise as joy and defiance, affirmed beyond all doubt by the song’s coda, which builds from softvoice and swelling-heart chords to the musical equivalent of fireflies whirling in timelapse. Likewise, the foot-on-monitor float and drop in Glued is prefaced by gnarly bends and punk battery, and then succeeded by the Midwestern version of a power riff, glittering arpeggios from Telecasters (switched to middle, I’ll bet) glancing off goodness knows how many glockenspiels, a clatter of rimshots, the sound of youthful abandon and sun on your parents’ house and everything beautiful about coming home.
The free download credits for Siderali (and the self-titled debut) have since run dry, but ‘til there’s more you can pick the record up for a paltry quid (or indeed more, which would be good of you).