One of the most delightfully, willfully odd
bands around, Antennas will probably always find it tough to
shake off the Arab
Strap and Mogwai comparisons.
The keyword there is "and". They sound like neither group
in all honesty, but a bit like both bands at the same time.
(Think R U Still In2 It). Previously,
I have mentioned Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia as a
closer relation. Why? Because the lyrics really take center
stage. The music creates the canvas that allows these bizarre
tales to unfold. (That said, the beautiful guitars on the
Robot Lets Me Watch The Cricket are a joy.)
Antennas To Heaven operate using the spoken word. These poems
and prose are a mélange of the surreal, comic, and disturbing.
There is something almost televisual about these stories. Not
cinematic but rather BBC2/Radio Four. A series of audio Plays
For Today, almost. I have little doubt lyricist Phil Hodgson
could be a formidable dramatist within other media. Clearly
a talented student of human behaviour, Hodgson blends these
observations with more surreal, fanciful thinking so that the
resultant vignette is like some bastard offspring of Mike Leigh
and David Lynch.
But is Hermeneutics as good as the
last album? Thankfully, yes it is. 27 minute problems shows
the refinement. Ostensibly it's the same material, but given
that little bit more polish, more edge, which lifts it away from
the amateurish. There isn't a bad track on display. The "epics" (Gravy
is Gravy, Domino Whore, and 0734) bookend this
record. The lighter, more reflective pieces are positioned centrally. 0734 is
arguably the best example of the power of Antennas. On it, they
take a situation as mundane and ordinary as catching the morning
train and twist it into something powerfully provocative and
edgy. You find the drama playing out in your head a long time
after the music has come to an end. In this respect, the words
energize the music of Antennas To Heaven. There is definite synergy
at work with these guys.
Like much of the post-rock genre, sustainability becomes the
chief challenge. Theirs is an interesting and often brilliant
technique, but to eek it out over 50 plus minutes requires
a deal of variety and planning. Antennas pull it off again
on their second LP, but I can't help feeling Hermeneutics is
an enhancement of the
debut. Progress certainly, but progression of competence,
professionalism, and presentation rather than intellectual or
compositional advancement. Then again, I rather claimed they
had too many ideas on The
Line Between Myth… Am
I arguing in circles? Maybe I am. Antennas to heaven can do that
In many more ways than one.