Origins is a recurring series that gives artists a space to break down everything that went into their latest release. Today, British post-punkers Squid take us through their latest single, “The Blades.”
Squid have returned with the latest single from the upcoming O Monolith, “The Blades.” The post-rock-inspired, experimental post-punk track comes complete with a video directed by Kasper Häggström and starring Charlotte Ritchie.
The tune evokes the high-strung, tense art rock of Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead, fusing classic art-punk instrumentals with sprawling electronics and blistering horns. It builds itself up only to crumble before offering any sense of catharsis, and all the while, vocalist Ollie Judge offers perhaps his most dynamic performance yet.
“The song is written from the perspective of a police helicopter pilot called out to a protest and going a bit mad with power,” Judge explains. “The song ends with him in bed being tormented and kept awake by another pilot doing the night shift, eventually debating the choices he’s made.”
The intensity of the narrative is reflected in the sonics of “The Blades.” The nearly seven-minute-long track sounds labored over, meticulously constructed, and unlike almost anything else that’s come out in 2023. Beyond name-dropping Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as influences for such a sound, the band also credits Tortoise’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die as a North Star. Fittingly, Tortoise member John McEntire would step in to help mix the song.
“The album’s balance of electronic and acoustic sound is thoughtful and was an inspiration when we were working on tracks like ‘The Blades’ and ‘Swing,'” guitarist Louis Borlase tells Consequence. “Maybe Tortoise’s skill at this is best exemplified on the album’s A-side, ‘Djed,’ where glitch and rhythmic groove mesh seamlessly for about 20 minutes!”
Check out the video for Squid’s “The Blades” below, followed by Judge and Borlase’s breakdown of the song’s Origins.
O Monolith will arrive on June 9th, and pre-orders are ongoing. Previously, the band previewed the album with “Swing (In a Dream)” and “Undergrowth.” In support of the release, Squid will embark on a lengthy tour in the UK and Europe later this year, followed by a run of North American shows in early 2024. Get tickets to their dates here.
The nature of O Monolith required us to listen more and to take extra time with ideas, letting things soak for longer than they had before. When we started writing “The Blades,” we would play along to the Digitakt drum machine, a kind of idea for drum breaks and static parts. I was reading Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening texts, trying to practice the idea of sending and receiving sound and silence. I don’t think Pauline would have thought we were doing the best job.
Either way, we eventually split everything down to the bare bones and began to understand every part of “The Blades” in a more objective way, looping the groove for about 45 minutes at a time. Those listening sessions helped us to really understand the tone and energy of the track, which made structuring the song easier. — Louis Borlase
Tortoise’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die:
Tortoise’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die came back into my life in a really big way when we were working on O Monolith. The album’s balance of electronic and acoustic sound is thoughtful and was an inspiration when we were working on tracks like “The Blades” and “Swing.” Maybe Tortoise’s skill at this is best exemplified on the album’s A-side, “Djed,” where glitch and rhythmic groove mesh seamlessly for about 20 minutes!
Weirdly to us, when it came to approaching mixing our record we reached out to John McEntire, who was up for joining in on the project. There are a lot of parts and sections in “The Blades,” but John effortlessly gave both space and clarity to the music, which is no mean feat! — L.B.
The Simpsons‘ “The Telltale Head”:
The song is written from the perspective of a police helicopter pilot called out to a protest and going a bit mad with power. The song ends with him in bed being tormented and kept awake by another pilot doing the night shift, eventually debating the choices he’s made. This Simpsons episode, which is a spoof of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” has always stuck with me. That gnawing feeling you get when you know you’ve done something dishonest and wrong is portrayed so perfectly by Lisa. I wanted to kind of mimic that in the lyrics and tone of the last section. — Ollie Judge
The Number 7:
This song is in a 7/4 time signature. Some other great songs in 7/4 are “March of the Pigs” by Nine Inch Nails, “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead, and “Swing (In a Dream)” by Squid. Some other things that involve 7s are the film Enys Man by Mark Jenkin, the video game Killer 7, and the film Se7en by David Fincher (although his next film The Game is superior). — O.J.