Mars, bringer of war. You know the guy. Anyone with a tin ear and a car stereo tuned to TalkSport could pick out Holst’s bone-stomping, ear-pummelling, galaxy-crushing juggernaut as a favourite bit of Ker-lassical music, not least your own correspondent. As part of the Galvanised! event at Cafe OTO, which sees a selection of bands from the experimental/improv/free circuit creating works based on the five ‘Chaldean’ planets (the celestial bodies visible to the naked eye), Standard Planets give us their ‘guitar orchestra’ version of the nearly hundred-year-old piece.
Swelling their ranks to a six-piece, the giddy pleasure of bringing this family favourite to life through heavyweight rock drums and several amps the size of children brings a smile to every beard in the room, and even the band struggle to keep straight faces while assailing us with guitars mangled into entire horn sections (unlucky for Mars, if we’re supposed to be wetting our pants about our imminent gory demise).
The spectre of prog rock ghastliness should be looming, but any hint of bombast is outweighed by something altogether more primal, ass-kicking and cosmic. We’re left with two own-brand tracks offering an android precision and detached cool that no bell-bottomed progger could summon. Far out.
By Chal Ravens