Restlesslist’s development has seen them expanding from roots in bedroom lo-fi as a two-piece (Matt Twaites and Ben Elliot) creating collages from calculator keyboards, guitars, found sound samples and broken beats, into a full band (adding Tom White and Crispin Cairns) to build soundtrack-style instrumentals, skewed carnival themes and walls of atmosphere. The groups first EP as a four piece, Eyes Are On Your Hands, found a point at what could easily be termed ‘mid-fi’, the original lo-fi ideas being brought out into more rounded songs with a much higher quality sound production, though not quite hi-fi. Last year’s Butlin Breaks 7” continued a trend upwards in catchiness, at least in the upbeat title-track A-side which opened with theatrical jazz-hands and moved through western guitar twangs and rousing Bond-esque cornet. The flip side, “The Cowboy Song”, fittingly showed a different side to the band in an atmospheric, almost post-rock number.
Since losing a guitarist and having the drummer often off touring with one of his other groups the original members have started gigging again as a two-piece but here appeared as a three, with amended set-up. Elliot and Twaites took up normal positions behind keyboards, samplers and guitars but the pre-recorded drum tracks were still used with White also working on keyboards or additional guitars.
an awesome circus tune with fantastic bigtop riffs and sideshow ambles
The band have supported Battles, A Hawk and a Hacksaw and Jel which gives vague stylistic comparisons, they play live music but aided and informed by the styles and methods of electronica (and maybe hip-hop). Other, perhaps more useful comparison’s might be artists like Animal Collective, Dosh or the musical elements of Subtle and Buck 65, with leftfield indie and post-rock somewhere in amongst it all.
Tonight the band play a lot of material off the forthcoming debut album, with typically twisting structures — the music starts and stops, segueing into different sections through pauses for silence or atmospheric samples — and quirky riffs. The band flit between smaller partnerships of carnivalesque melodies and masses of synthesised noise, or from darker sections into hammond-led, laid-back dub. Restleslist blend styles you wouldnt have thought could sit quite so comfortably next to each other, and they share an ability with other groups like Deerhoof to use riffs and noises you cant normally get away with, but seem to work perfectly and often give off a huge sense of fun. The band always entertain with a vaguely shambolic comedic banter, and tonight invite a singalong to the opening “R-E-S-T-L-E-S-S-LIIIST” of “Butlin Breaks”, which doesn’t happen but was never really expected to. The song is performed impressively — the amended line-up leaving the ‘verse’ section emptier but adding a whole extra punch to entrance of the grand ‘chorus’, with live cornet performed by Actress Hands’ Phil Sumner. The band ended with “HourGlass”, off the EP but now reworked for the album — an awesome circus tune with fantastic bigtop riffs and sideshow ambles giving a fittingly big end to an awesome show.