This Is Not This Heat review – rousing reunion from an unstoppable force

Cafe Oto, London
Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore joined the experimental lineup for a night of fresh and focussed sounds

Too strange to fit in with their punk contemporaries, This Heat’s politicised, fever dream experimentation nevertheless earned a reverence that has led some to travel from as far afield as Japan to attend this reformation, exactly 40 years since their first gig. “All the avant garde are here,” observes one audience member.

Indeed they are. Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward (third founder Gareth Williams died in 2001) are joined on stage by some of the many who have taken inspiration from their legacy, including Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Daniel O’Sullivan of Grumbling Fur. Any concerns that This Is Not This Heat might, as the billing suggests, perform an abstract deconstruction of their work are dispelled as Hayward starts twitching behind his huge drum kit. He feels his way back into the music, before the fast/slow roar of Horizontal Hold crashes in. It has the spontaneity of improvised music, with fingers scrabbling over Korg and clarinet keys, but sounds incredibly focussed, taut and propulsive. The lo-fi sonics of This Heat and Deceit albums, recorded in a studio set up in the meat freezer of a south London pie factory, take on a new warmth.

In Not Waving, Hayward’s voice is querulous over clarinet and the occasional clang of a bell, like an otherworldly sea shanty drifting through the fog. Music Like Escaping Gas has male and female vocals gradually swallowed by the hiss of cymbals while SPQR, their most recognisably “punk” moment, is a glorious thrash. This Heat’s masterpiece was 24 Track Loop, and with all the extra instrumentation tonight it is unstoppable, as if high-tensile steel springs are raving around the room. Behind the drums, Charles Hayward’s face splits into a huge grin – this doesn’t feel like nostalgia, but a new beginning.


Luke Turner

The GuardianTramp

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