I arrived in time for Ammageddon, just catching the end of Michelson-Morley’s opening forays into electronica, riffs and alluring melodic hooks. I was also in time for the ‘not-the-end-of-the-world’ gags, before being promptly pinned to the back wall of the packed club by the crunching riff, with just the right dose of raw distortion on Jake McMurchie‘s sax and Dan Messore‘s guitar.
This was a welcome and, it seems, relatively rare outing for this ensemble. They’ve forged a distinctive sound and the launch of their second album, Strange Courage a couple of years ago, was met with loud praise and enthusiasm all round. Friday’s outing confirmed they’d lost none of their mojo or capacity to surprise and delight (as well as rip your ears off with a blast of ‘hot riff’).
If Ammageddon signalled the snarling rock end of their spectrum with Mark Whitlam clubbing the drums with abandon, they followed it with All The Welcomes, built around a light, intensifying, even groove, Messore’s solo unashamedly melodic. There is no Perfect Wave had them conjuring up an other-worldy tapestry of sound, Whitlam attending to laptop rather than snare, before a tense heartbeat of a pulse from Will Harris‘s bass provided a reference point for them to dance round. There was plenty of freedom and experimentation, but an artful hook to move things on or provide an attention grabbing point of interest was never far away. Microambient Crypto Musicology began with plenty of mystery, but the sun came out as Messore turned it into a crypto-country ish song. McMurchie’s lyrical side surfaced on Your Eyebrows Go Well With Your Face, a slightly suppressed folky melody with a dancing undercurrent punctuated by teasing scronky interludes. There were plenty of hand-brake turns in the music and they rocked out at full tilt on Rice Rage to keep the energy up to the end.
There’s endless invention, fun and nuance amongst the riffs and electronic ambience and they are a great live act. The world should see more of Michelson-Morley.
This was also my second outing of the week to one of Bristol’s weekly gigs. The BeBop Club definitely takes the honours for longevity – well into their third decade – but great to see a full house for this gig. Let’s hope there are more for the great programme of local and visiting musicians coming up (listings here )