Invada Records’ THOUGHT FORMS are that very rare band for whom the term “sonic progression” actually applies. With the Wiltshire three piece’s critically acclaimed eponymous debut, the band experimented with a beguiling, compelling atmospheric sound, all cinematic soundscapes and yawning chasms of noise. With their sophomore effort Ghost Mountain, the band found their teeth, biting back with a monster of a record that sounded as visceral and immediate as it was loose and experimental, and appearances on the award-winning Ex Machina soundtrack and with Adrian Utley’s Guitar Orchestra have cemented the band’s position in the vanguard of exciting, experimental new British acts.
Now, with their third full length release ‘Songs About Drowning’, Charlie Romijn (guitars / vocals), Deej Dhariwal (guitars / vocals) and Guy Metcalfe (drums) kick it up yet another notch, pushing the boat out even further to create a strange, intoxicating album, their most accomplished to date and certainly their most fascinating.
“We’d been playing live so much that we’d been rehearsing for gigs but not just playing together and seeing what happened”, Charlie Romijn recalls. “So when Geoff’s old studio SOA was empty after they moved to the new Invada HQ on the other side of town, we locked ourselves away in there, stayed there for days just making a racket and figuring out what kind of sound we wanted to explore next. We knew we wanted our next album to feel spacious and more expansive than anything we’d done before and that we didn’t want to limit ourselves in any way.
A contributing factor of this sea-change was the addition of Jim Barr, who, besides owning the J&J Studio in Bristol and playing bass in both Get the Blessing and Portishead, also produced ‘Ghost Mountain’ and has been a strong ally of the band since they first toured with Portishead back in 2011. “He pushed us beyond anything we’d done previous to that and was really inspiring”, Charlie says. “We knew he would be direct and honest and as big fans of his music, we felt we’d be in good hands with him. This time, as well as producing, he was welcomed in as part of the band…there’s really not many people we’d consider allowing into the creative process like that”.
The resultant album is Thought Forms at their most refined, although that doesn’t mean that it lacks a pulse by any stretch of the imagination. Instead it’s the opposite – by combining songwriting methods they’d used in the past, they honed and sharpened their sound to a knife edge. The colossal, completely improvised opus “Aeaea” slowly builds into a maelstrom of beautifully attuned noise with piano, drums and even horns adding to its perfect storm. Similarly, “Forget My Name” and “By the Stars” build on improvised drum patterns to become beautifully hypnotic, seductive tour de forces which rank among the band’s best yet. With the band adding new instruments and a new level of confidence into the mix, ‘Songs About Drowning’ could well be the record that sees Thought Forms getting the recognition they so richly deserve as unparalleled British sonic noiseniks bar none, and see them carrying on the proud lineage of off-kilter noise pop, joining the ranks of My Bloody Valentine, Suicide and many more.
*Booking: Iberia (Spain/Portugal)