Not Squares - Release The Bees

Dan Round 29/08/2010

Rating: 3/5

Similarly titled to an early Nick Cave song, “Release The Bees” by Belfast techno outfit Not Squares is obviously a very different beast to his Birthday Party number, though just as “Release The Bats” reached the highest pantheons of discordance in the 80s, so too its namesake angles for a chaotically disjointed style. With their debut album due out next month the Irish trio have honed in on their blaring electronica, and their specialised sound is no more highly concentrated than on this, their new single.

Boasting a plethora of electronic intricacies, waves of blips and bleeps, and a bass and beat heavy backing, the radio edit of “Release The Bees” is a thrashing piece of techno with an aggressive sound that is very much (a)live. Sharing vocal duties, Keith Winter (drums), Michael Kinlock and Rocki O'Rawe (both synth/bass) oversee an incongruously menacing lead vocal - monotonous, quiet and creepy - interwoven with surrounding animalistic wailings and chants, set to their pounding music. Clearly a song at its unrestrained best when played live by the boisterous three-piece, it nevertheless retains most of its crazed tribal power and electronic vigour on record.

Stretched out to nearly eight minutes however, the song does loose some of the dynamism it achieves in the four-minute-something edit. Track two, the full length version of “Release The Bees”, gives further logic and reason to the existence of a radio edit, save for the fact that any song close to eight minutes long usually needs a little trimming down before it makes its way onto the airwaves. The epic full monty rambles on indolently, showcasing very little else exciting or different to the radio edit, which is simply the culmination of all the best bits from the overly drawn-out original. Its inclusion on the single is slightly baffling, and it mars the impressive instantaneity of its streamlined sister version.

The final B-side, a new mix of “Bi Ki Na”, provides some light relief after the eventual tedium of listening to “Release The Bees” for over 12 minutes in total. Beginning with atmospheric swellings of pretty synthesised sprinkles, the elegant electronica gives way to a deranged techno styling with the minimalist purity of the introduction mutating into harsh beats and thumping loops, complete with oddly synthesised vocals. Featuring a bizarre lead yet again, the “you say you never get enough” tagline is catchy, and is backed once more with sinister, wild yelps. Think Animal Collective gone mad 'n' bad.

Though Not Squares are clearly a band most at ease within live surroundings (see their rapturous reception at Reading & Leeds last year), on this single they do manage - at times at least - to successfully convert their live energy into recording prowess from the confines of the studio. An exuberant effort from an interesting group. (It might still be worth bypassing the full length version of the single, mind.)

Not Squares - Release the Bees from Bright Stem on Vimeo.