[sic] Magazine

Puressence + Exit Calm, live, Manchester Academy

I’d spent the day waiting for the inevitable Ting Tings backlash. When it failed to materialize I consoled myself with the fact that I was about to see two of the hottest acts in the country. With train tickets in hand, my mind was firmly focused. Only once did my thoughts stray on to why nobody had bought that big, fuck-off rabbit at Pets at Home on the Croft Industrial Estate. I guess nobody wants to be saddled with an oversized herbivore during a period of financial instability?
It’s still there by the way.

Everyone’s talking about Pets at Home. Those who aren’t are talking about Exit Calm. When I initially saw the advert for Exit Calm I assumed it was for an assisted suicide clinic. A suicide clinic in Manchester – I thought, “Fancy that! I bet they’re fully booked”. I expected it to be down a backstreet, a small shabby office , staffed solely by a bloke called Frank with a hacking cough.

As it is, Exit Calm are a Verve-influenced four-piece from Barnsley who specialise in brilliantly-hued space rock and are in no way connected with any organisation that specialises in putting people to sleep with a powerful cocktail of barbiturates.

Exit Calm

Thirty minutes later I realise I’ve been rooted to the spot, my Nike Air running shoes yielding not an inch, the pressure slowly mounting on my bladder. Not because I’m dying – no – it’s because Exit Calm are so damned good. Watching them is like being caught in the headlights of an on-rushing psychedelic juggernaut, if you can imagine such a thing. It would be driven by a bloke with a voluminous beard, not Peter Sutcliffe, and probably has swirly writing on the side. They play a compact yet forceful set, wave upon wave of shimmering guitar propelled outward with the impact of a dying star. A Desert Island Discs from beyond the Oort cloud. You’re unlikely to hear Peter Sutcliffe on Desert Island Discs, due, in part, to the innate conservatism of Radio 4 listeners, but also because people aren’t interested, or not conspicuously so, in the musical preferences of a multiple killer. One of my earliest childhood memories is wanting to see DID presenter Sue Lawley trembling behind a screen of reinforced glass .. “Well Sue, this track fills me with nostalgia. I’m reminded of those clear frosty mornings when I was a humble gravedigger, the quietude of the cemetery at dawn, that is – before the headstones started conversing with me, ah I just love the way the saxophone comes in there… “ . (For some reason I had the Yorkshire Ripper down as a fan of the record (‘Baker Street’)

Exit Calm are by turns dazzling, hypnotic, a sublime act in the making. They don’t so much take their cues from Shoegaze, rather have stumbled upon it’s corpse lying face down in a ditch and have repeatedly violated it, walking away with mobiles aloft, proclaiming to the world “Wahey – this is definitely You tube material “. It had to happen eventually. ‘School of Higher Learning’ doesn’t just hint at greatness, it’s already there by a considerable margin. All of a sudden it’s over. Punters are left stunned, bathed in the cosmic afterglow. If Exit Calm aren’t on Jools Holland by this time next year, I’m going to stage a dirty protest outside Broadcasting House. You heard it here first.


Puressence - James Mudriczki

The precision-targeted interstellar blasts of Exit Calm contrast with the more populist sound of Puressence, hanging, as it does, on the immaculate voice of James Mudriczki. I checked that out on my Travel Scrabble set. It’s worth 27, more if you get the Triple Word bonus. You do the math. Mudriczki’s vocal chords exhibit all the elasticity of a hastily-erected bungee jump in a pub car park, from which a middle-aged man has plunged to his death after a leap for charity in front of a suddenly muted cheering crowd, but obviously a bit more elastic than that. I was struggling for a metaphor. The trouble is, there aren’t any that do it justice. That bloke out of ABC once sang “When Smokey sings I hear violins “. When Mudriczki sings I hear violins, cellos, clarinets, xylophones, glockenspiels, car alarms, you name it, it’s all in there. He boasts one of the most outstanding voices in rock, flawless tonight in spite of generally ropey sound quality. Think of Jimmy Somerville (no relation) foolishly inhaling helium with his testicles trapped in a lift door, having just been asked by the lift attendant to sing in a particularly high voice. There’s a community of Pipistrelle bats in nearby Rusholme that use Mudriczki’s voice to recalibrate their sonar. It would sit comfortably on any CD compilation of birdsong, like the one recently given away in a leading Sunday newspaper. James Mudriczki is the Failsworth Nightingale, casting light into the autumnal gloom with his melodious utterances. A bird that basks in our adoration, never shy of an encore. Never shy of anything.

I'm on fire?

‘Sharpen up the Knives’ might be band’s parting shot after a bad dining experience at Pizza Express. ‘Burns Inside’ conjures up an evening of necrophilia with a dead Scottish poet but is more likely about the smouldering emotional hurt following a break up with a living human being. You pays your money and you takes your choice. ‘Bitter Pill’ puts me in mind of scrabbling around for that last Nytol, only to find that the expiry date on the packet is October 2006. These are songs of praise, devotion and heartache, hatched by a band who’ve never been swayed by the changing fashions in Manchester music, but instead have stuck resolutely to charting their own course. They tower above most of their Manchester contemporaries, knocking out stadium fillers with the ease of an Andy Murray backhand. That the band themselves have yet to habitually play stadia the size of Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers FC, is something of a mystery. You can get twenty thousand in there on a good day, providing you pay scant regard to effective policing and public safety. In the meantime I, along with the rest of the world, look forward to seeing the Puressence tour van parked on Borough Road, having driven via Ellesmere Port thereby evading the tunnel fee.