A music blog from Ireland.
Last week came the Wolfwrangler video and now, three years on from the release of Red In Tooth & Claw, BATS have a new album called The Sleep Of Reason, the final release before independent label the Richter Collective shuts down for good. Here is the stream in its gory 11-track glory ahead of the release and launch on 20 October. Hit play, inhale deeply and read on for my appraisal and their outline of the lyric themes.
Knowing that BATS are regarded in places as the best band in the country it’s been difficult not to blab and tweet about these songs before due time. I found myself thinking of the direction that the Cruel Sea Scientist EP took back in 2008 but it’s not accurate to say that BATS have gone back to their earlier songs, just that they know how to mine deep, down to the heavy elements that carry markers, identifying a very traceable, distinctive style through the substance of each song. This is very much a new collection that stands apart from its predecessors but there are moments similar to lethalogica when familiarity shimmers just out of reach. Produced by Chris Common of These Arms Are Snakes, while not as brightly-buffed and dare I say polished, The Sleep Of Reason has the racy, faster tempos that made Red In Tooth & Claw a dance album disguised as a rock record, and the jointed rhythms which propel into math rock, complete with all the unpredictable, unsurpassable extra tinges, flourishes and sweet spots of sound that lend the proggy flavour that sets them apart. If songs about long-dead reptiles, brilliant yet tragic mathematicians and flawed ideologies weren’t already enough.
The proven formula of bass/drums/three guitars/group vocals remains in place, meaning they mainline immense rhythms to sustain the highs of melody. The material is as diverse and varied in texture as BATS fans will have come to expect, the vocals more pronounced, pervasive, and their timing is as ever precise and meticulous, leading The Sleep Of Reason on fraught treks to reach summits at the tipping point between clarity and confusion. And of course the lyrics, faithful to science and its progress, the fallacies of man, wonders of life and the dangers of nature. Heat Death has me by the balls and won’t let go but there’s going to be a lot of listening here before I’m able to really pick it apart for favourites. They guard their secrets far too well and hearing all these tracks come to life at gigs will be the exhilarating second stage of this journey.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Rupert Morris outlined the themes of the songs in a brief walkthrough of the lyrics.
1. Emergent Properties – “The moments immediately after the big bang.”
2. Wolfwrangler – “This one’s about the natural order vs. human emotion and how a scientist can fall in love with his subject.”
3. Stem Cells – “Pretty self evident. The most promising line of medical research is being impeded by iron age dogmas.”
4. Astronomy, Astrology – “A contrast between the true and wonderful science of astronomy and the self indulgent mockery of science that is astrology. I think it’s really important that humans accept the fact that the universe wasn’t created with them in mind.”
5. The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters – “Religion still has its gnarled fingers around the throats of corruptible humankind and we need to point at it and go ‘hey!’”
6. Heat Death -”This is a lamentation and elation on the entropic heat death of the universe. It’s about entropy being at the core of reality and the physical world.”
7. Creatures Collecting – “This one’s about micro-biology, and the process of evolution on both the macro scale and the micro scale.”
8. Thomas Midgley Jr. - “Thomas Midgley was an ill-fated early 20th century scientist. He first tasked himself with finding a way to make internal combustion engines burn fuel more smoothly. He had the idea of mixing lead with the petroleum, although this worked a treat it had devastating and long lasting effects on the environment. Next up he turned his hand to making refrigeration units safer (they use to explode all the time back then) So he invented the freon! more commonly known as Chloroflurocarbons or CFC’s we all know how that turned out. Finally and tragically, upon contracting polio he rigged up a system of ropes and pullies to help him move around his bed and strangled himself accidentally to death. This song is for him.”
9. Luminiferous Aether – “This song details a portion of the history of light wave theory when scientists believed light waves traveled through a kind of fluid that permeated space and called it luminiferous aether. By removing all matter from a space, the first artificially created vacuum, they tried to determine what conveyed the light waves. It’s about the notion of nothingness, void and vacuum. More generally it’s about the scientific method and how it actually works! and the joy and wonder it can elicit.”
10. The Fall of Bees – “Please don’t die Bees. Is it our fault???”
11. Terrible Lizards – “My passion for dinosaurs has finally been crystalised in a dedicated BATS song. This is about extinction, comparing the saurian extinction event to our own possible annihilation as apocalyptic ideologies draw ever nearer to intersection with apocalyptic weaponry.”
12. Final Entropy – The last moments of our universe as the last black hole evaporates leaving literally nothing, no cause, no effect, time rendered impotent.
You can order The Sleep Of Reason on CD now from BATS’ bigcartel page for €10. Alternately, get along to the launch gig at Whelan’s on Saturday night where admission is €10, or €15 with a CD. Support on the night comes from No Spill Blood and Turning Down Sex.