Admittedly TesseracT were not a band I knew particularly well. As I ran into Rescue Rooms it briefly occurred to me that the only thing I remembered about them, besides the fact that they classify themselves as being progressive metal, was the fact that like me, their hometown was the Orwellian nightmare that is Milton Keynes. It’s safe to say that TesseracT are the best thing that will emerge from Milton Keynes, words I never thought I would live to say.
TesseracT are touring their most recent album Polaris at the moment in Europe, with support from The Contortionist. Those who arrived on time would have also had the pleasure of seeing Post Rockers Nordic Giants open the show. Upon arriving I unexpectedly bumped into a few friends, whose opinion on Nordic Giants was divided. Whilst one enjoyed their performance because it felt less like a set, and more like a conceptual art installation at a gallery, having walked into an entirely dark room with the exception of a screen showing an anime film, I could see why he thought that. Others were quick to disagree, stating that the band’s performance was incoherently disjointed. Perhaps the observation was made out of essentialist tendencies, or perhaps their appreciation for post rock was fairly limited. Either way, I was excited for the performances that were to follow, and I could tell that the rest of the audience felt the same way.
“As the triumphantly defiant chords of ‘Phoenix’ raged through the speakers, I fell in love”
The Contortionist began their performance in what felt like no time at all. From a visual perspective at least the lighting was nothing out of the ordinary. There was a 2 to 1 ratio of red lights to blue, so the artists were mostly flooded with red light. As the screaming vocals were almost deafeningly drowned out by the instruments, my eyes took in the scene around me further, and suddenly it all fell into place. It almost felt like the band were drawing their raison d’etre from the lights, particularly the lead vocalist; whose immersion in the instrumentals around him lent to his ironically contrived and hypnotic movements. Unconsciously I found myself head-banging, which surprised me until I looked around and realised I wasn’t the only one! The audience were feeding off the energy of the band and vice versa, indicative of a shared sonic relationship that was more symbiotic than parasitic. Having contorted my perception of reality, anticipation was certainly in the air as the audience chanted for TesseracT, whilst the stage was being prepared.
Rescue Rooms was brimming with bodies collectively holding their breath. As the triumphantly defiant chords of ‘Phoenix’ raged through the speakers, I fell in love. I could feel my sunken spirits lifting, rising from the ashes as it were. A perfect balance was struck between the vocals, the guitars and the arhythmic drumming, each element lending itself to the other. Furthermore the intersecting white strobe lighting served as a reminder to the audience of the four dimensional square after which they are named, which though subtle I really appreciated. Unlike The Contortionists, the lighting shifted throughout the set from black during ‘Phoenix,’ to green and blue in ‘Messenger’, ‘Of Matter’, and ‘Dystopia’, to blood red during ‘Hexes’, an ethereal blue and lilac during ‘Survival’ and ‘April’ and finally back to black for ‘Nocturne’. Lyrically I felt that they articulated the human condition in a way that was poignant, and dare I say it beautiful. The subtle electronic interspersions in their riffs characterized the self-described progressive nature of their sound. All in all I found their set incredibly empowering; it certainly transcended four dimensions. I even found myself reflecting on some of the lyrics from ‘Phoenix’ as I walked home.
“I can breathe again.
I choose to never let go or lose control
See through the sights of a rifle
Live through the eyes of a child
Walk through the mind of minor to extol”
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.