News came in that the woman who had single handedly dragged the monarchy kicking and screaming into the modern world – through funneling millions of pounds into an offshore portfolio in the Cayman Islands and making small talk with a CGI bear – had kicked the bucket. Shows were being cancelled and the library I work at had been told that all singing for babies must stop at once. Thankfully Italia 90 at the Windmill in Brixton was to go ahead as planned.
Before the leftist four piece took to the stage I got my first taste of Ghost Car. The psych rock four piece had the room boogying in no time at all, synth lines spread over a horizon of swollen riffs and high vocals that reveled in their own frustration. Rhythms changed; forever shuffling the deck and thank god, I cannot stress this enough: I do not like Krautrock, it is a plague that has swept across the city and must be shunned. It was easy to imagine the crowd descending into a writhing pit as the relentlessness of the rehearsed drama on stage and squealing guitar began to feel like something more than sound. I was on the colas this night and even I felt the lure of pogoing and pointing my finger in the air. I resisted though and instead just told myself I would go and see Ghost Car again on a weekend one day and lose my shit.
Next it was time for Italia 90. I first saw the band in this very venue a good few years ago and I was struck by the polemical repetition, I wondered home that night reciting my own misremembered version, vapors of milk and honey streamed through my mind’s eye. The band has stayed the same since then and this time together has forged a clairvoyant understanding of one another, and let it not be forgotten how hard and rare it is to see a band keep the same lineup for any period of time in these days of ultimate disregard for the people holding the tools. The crowd were tuned to the band, it was understood through being here that we all had more in common than the music. The vitriol became more than alive when the bass walked into fan favourite New Factory and even I on the colas found myself barking along to the indignant assertion that the worker is free only to choose his site of exploitation. The set represented a development away from the meta irony of earlier tracks like this and into more group experimentation à la Dry Cleaning. The evening was anchored however and in between a remarkably effective rendition of Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean the crescendo came for Competition. Seven minutes of feedback and berating that only becomes more sour as the meaning of the song’s title becomes naked in the light of what it really means. Perhaps most exciting of all on this night was the mention of an album coming. Italia 90 have excelled in the fields of singles and E.Ps and their new experimental structures gesture to a more expansive sound for their first full length album.
Review by Patrick Malone