No Spill Blood

Golden Plec Feature: Hi, Have You Met No Spill Blood?

Synth bands have never had an easy ride with the music press. Mark Ribowsky, famed soul biographer stated the synthesizer had the ability to “not only destroy careers”, but to “destroy souls”. Morrissey stated “there was nothing more repellent than the synthesizer” and even the NME journalists of the 80s aligned the contraption with some of Hitlers’. Why then are Dublin band No Spill Blood winning plaudits internationally and signing to Sargent House, all the while being heralded as the ‘Next Big Thing’?

Well for starters, Ruadhan O’Meara’s Synth has a pair of testicles bigger than those of a bear from Chernobyl. It rattles a deep fuzz, reminiscent of Death From Above 1979, but effortlessly heavier – and an octave or so deeper. This aural monstrosity from the Magic Pockets member, allows bass player Matt Hedigan to stray from the normal duties of a bass player. “We can change what would normally happen with those frequencies. Which is different”, he recently told The Community of Independents. Not that he’d need to tell you. Less than a minute into their first release ‘Street Meat’, you’re already on track two and have already witnessed the bass being wielded as something more than a backing track instrument.

Lacking a percussionist, the pair turned to Lar Kaye, Adebisi Shank's phenomenal performance. It wouldn’t appear to be an obvious choice on paper, but after a few cans in a practice room and a couple of jamming sessions, it became clear the trio were onto something. Despite Adebisi Shank’s position as arguably the kings of independent music in Ireland, the trio turned to Matt’s other band, Hands Up Who Wants To Die for their first gig at Crawdaddy.

However, the days of building a fan base from gigging alone is long behind us. It wasn’t until after the A Joyful Slog documentary and particularly The Community of Independents show that the band had recordings of some sort to showcase to the wider community. They caught the attention of Cathy Pellow at Sargent House, who was interested in being involved in their first release.

So what would the first release of the “next big thing” concern itself with? Coal mining, apparantly. “The lyrics are loosely based on a story I wrote in school about a guy who reluctantly starts working in his local mine,” says Hedigan. “I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination! It’s fairly apocalyptic.” I’ll have to take his word for it. His vocal delivery is as impressive as it is incomprehensible – to my sensitive ears at least.

The EP itself, Street Meat is an impressive output. Unforgiving and relentless, it works fantastically well as a body of work. Forty second opener, ‘Tunnel’, is the sounds of a mining elevator in free fall. Frantic and short it is the perfect introduction to this wall of noise. Later on, ‘Junior’ presents itself as the most organised, bass-driven piece, before ‘Stang Gang’ lures us in with a false sense of security; With almost a minute of dream-like synth, the penultimate track soon evolves into an angry, (albeit less aggressive) beast than its predecessors. However it is the closing track ‘New Tricks’, which is the show stealer. Heavily instrumental, it begins like an 80s Russian Spy movie, before Hedigan’s vocal and bass performance create an altogether more furiously epic piece. It weaves in and out of ghostly phasers, before bringing this EP to a premature end. - by Sean Conroy