Berkshire’s Heights are one of those bands it’s impossible to pigeonhole. Throwing together elements of jazz, experimental and rock under the banner of prog, they create dreamy sound collages and uplifting, meandering riffs. But how do they and their new album *deep, Ace Ventura style breath* Phantasia On The High Processions Of Sun, Moon And Countless Stars Above translate live?
Rhoda May are first on, and although they share similarities with the headliners (three piece, instrumental prog) their sound is absolutely individual. Their trippy, psyched out ‘post prog’ is very rhythmic, drummer Mark Sanger handling tempo changes effortlessly and putting in some dexterous cymbal work. They’re very tight and clearly well rehearsed, despite guitarst Will Pain being ‘betrayed by [his] own delay pedal’. There’s little pause for applause as they throw down a set comprised largely of newer cuts that are sounding very promising, but that still includes older favourites like ‘#9’. Great stuff.
Welcome The Howling Tones are a different concept from the other two bands on the bill, but their righteous bluesy licks are still a grand addition. Imagine if Clutch had a baby with Truckfighters in a dive bar in the southern US and you’ve got a rough idea of what tracks like ‘Broken Man’, ‘Eyes To Hypnotise’ and ‘I Can Get Mad’ sound like. They’re propelled along by a solid, groove laden rhythm section that Chris Gilday augments with some killer, wailing guitar solos. Iain Turner’s vocals round out their sound with a decent clarity and presence, and they’re just a good fuckin’ time.
You know straight from the off that Heights are going to take your brain out, play around with it a bit, then put it gently back in. Their music is definitely complex, but not to the point of complete self indulgent show offery. They’re similar to And So I Watch You From Afar but with a less pop leaning. Jay Postone’s drumming is the heart of it all, shifting cymbals and easy, organic tempo changes that keep things moving. Al Heslop conjures some dreamy, shimmering guitar work that is dexterous and jazzy, while John Hopkin cuts through the light and shade dynamics with bass work that holds it all together. Their set is obviously new-album heavy, and cuts like ‘Centrifuge’ and ‘Symphony For The Sky pt. 1″ expand to fill the space and the mind like astral journeying. Admittedly they won’t be for everyone, but even as a passing curiosity, they hold your attention with ease.