Action beat open their record, ‘beatings’ with a song named ‘car crash Halloween disco’ that sounds like it was recorded by Sonic Youth during their ‘confusion is sex days’ and which is, therefore, thoroughly awesome. A vast, bleeding arms of tangled guitars, frenzied drum beats and howling feedback it is the sort of music you put on at a party if you want to be fairly sure of clearing away that one guest who always examines your collection of alt-rock albums carefully and then pensively asks you if you have any Robbie Williams. After 2 minutes of this disarming noise abuse I can guarantee that they’ll be gone – but as with Sonic Youth, this is the sort of album that makes you want to stay the course, if only to find out what they’re going to do next.
In the case of Action beat, the next course of action is to unleash a track that recalls ‘brother James’ (only minus vocals) and which sees the drummer apparently having some sort of lucky fit that still allows him to molest the drum kit even if he isn’t strictly in charge of his limbs any more. Meanwhile the guitars are faster than a speeding bullet and the bass rumbles away in the background making everything shake slightly. Four minutes in and it’s time for song number three ‘danger beat’ which makes up for what it lacks in tune, subtlety and structure with an earnest desire to burst ear-drums that you can only admire (particularly if you loved the noise rock of bands such as SY and Urusai Yatsura). ‘Krang’ dispels any notions that these noisy buggers may attempt a ballad with a vicious stop/start riff and corrosive drums that crash through yr skull like a ton of bricks dropped from a great height.
So far, so excellent. ‘straight’ (which is anything but) relies on an oddly timed, jarring riff that makes you feel ever so slightly sea-sick before ‘Don0)))vito’ comes on like a Pavement b-side, all interlocking guitars and indie-tunefulness. ‘Bergen to Blethcley’ kind of approaches a more subtle dynamic (subtle in blasting the padlock off a door with a shotgun rather than a pound of C4) with the riffs making marginally more sense and a suspicion that the guitars are being played with picks rather than a screwdriver. Happily this feeling of security doesn’t last long with the beautifully titled ‘shit yrself’ offering up a 3 minute summation of Mogwai’s ‘like Herod’ quiet/loud dynamic. ‘Daddy why?’ could possibly be Iggy Pop’s ferocious take on punk filtered through the warped minds of these damaged individuals – or that could just be my own damaged brain attempting to make sense of it all and ‘chug’ is a distant cover of Nirvana’s ‘endless nameless’.
…and that’s Action Beat. They’re not pretty, they probably are clever and their ex-members’ list looks like a telephone directory (and in all probability is the directory of a centrally located tinnitus clinic), al lof which means that they are completely and utterly awesome and should be on the Christmas list of any naughty boy or girl who misses the wild experimentation of the casualties of ‘the year that punk broke’. Admittedly ‘beatings’ may leave you feeling like you’ve taken one, but if your thing is warped, exceptionally heavy guitar mangling and SonicAbuse (and if it isn’t, why exactly are you here?) then Action Beat will be right down your dimly lit, urine soaked ally.