Saturday, 11 October 2008

Holy Fuck / One Horse Race @ The Sugarmill, Hanley. October 9th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Simon Bamford

Beginning the evening’s proceedings, impressive young 5-piece One Horse Race demonstrated a musical maturity beyond their years right from their very first pounding opening number. Vocalist Rhys Jones, although shaky on the odd note, is not afraid to belt ‘em out and it is obvious that the power and feel of the music behind him drives him on. They have some great songs and a listen to their myspace profile confirms just how commercial some of them are. I particularly like ‘Get Behind Me’ with Joe Rushton’s nifty drumming interlude and also the summery ‘Megalomania’; although all of their material is of a recommendable standard. Also popular with contemporaries like the Foals, the clean, clear guitar sound utilised makes for a refreshing crispness of overall sound and there was some nice guitarwork all round from Sam Biggs and Jo Birdsey. Bassist Joe Stainsby demonstrated a cool technique; picking, plucking, pulling and even strumming at one point during the set and his contribution at all times was never less than rock solid. I can see no reason at all why One Horse Race shouldn’t go from strength to strength. They certainly have the talent.

All the way from Toronto and not a guitar in sight, quartet Holy Fuck played an absolute blinder. A corking rhythm section and a vast double desktop arsenal of keyboards, effects pedals, all sorts of electronic and blown gadgetry are what Holy Fuck are all about - not to mention a Moviola film-editing machine; although it’s contribution to the overall output wasn’t obvious. Nice quirky addition though; as was the vaguely ambiguous framed portrait of an attractive young lady placed at the front of the stage.

On top of extremely well-coordinated and sometimes thunderous drums and bass, the two creators of the vast electronic grandeur that is Holy Fuck, Graham Walsh and Brian Borcherdt, open the set with plenty of ethereally winding twists and turns; pulling the listener deep into the music as soaring, gliding soundscapes seem to give the venue cathedral-like dimensions. Heading up a different route altogether on their second number, the snarework itself was enough to keep me riveted. All sorts of influences and styles are there in this overflowing cornucopia of sound and not just ones to be expected either. ‘Royal Gregory’ put me strongly in mind of Santana’s ‘Soul Sacrifice’, but taking the structure to another level altogether. It is an undoubtedly excellent piece of work in its own right no matter what comparisons are made. In fact, everything of their works I’ve heard to date sounds pretty much masterly. My favourite as I stand though, has to be the single ‘Lovely Allen’; it is simply sublime. I counted 13 compositions in all and each one had just as many interesting properties in its own way as the last. This is one formidable outfit. ‘Holy Fuck’ is about right.

One Horse Race
Holy Fuck

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