Touche Amore

Touche Amore


The distressed voice of Daniel Johnston suffocates the room in thoughts of an eternal, inescapable funeral. Calls to forever close, and the silence invites a dangerous animal to the stage of Manchester’s Sound Control. Restless and feverish, the platform is paced to the soundtrack of melodic incline, before cathartic contraction is set free in the form of ‘Flowers and You’, the introduction to LA-based quintet Touche Amore’s latest record Stage Four: a harrowing and visceral exercise of dignity and grace in the face of grief.

Coloured with a mature shade of desolation and musical sophistication, Stage Four challenges death, memory and the arc of processing such things with a vicious sense of artistic courage. Tragedy weighs heavy on Jeremy Bolm, front-man of the hardcore Californian giants, as he opens the evening with cries of being crushed by the sight of his mother “withering away”. Further self-examination pulls Bolm to cross the divide of the barrier to inject such ballooning thoughts of heartache and sorrow into the face of the audience, and the audience fight over each other, hexed and possessed, to scream of their own demons back into his. Bolm admits to still feeling his mother everywhere on the cutting ‘New Halloween’, and with such honesty a knife is planted in the belly of the room – only to be twisted by Bolm’s struggles to finish certain lines regarding voice-messages he’s still unable to listen to and the rapturous waves of profound sadness you swim against when something you love is gone.

Although the air-tight post-punk natives gift the audience with powerful, 100-second bursts of instrumental catharsis, it’s hard to draw your eyes away from Bolm. Touch Amore defy their peers with a high-functioning level of creative confidence that burns its fire for no witness, but it’s Bolm who’s crucifying himself on-stage. It’s Bolm who’s sucking the poison out of the wound. Doused in a sea of audience following a final crossing of the barrier into the arms of the devout, Bolm cries “at least I tried” on set-encore ‘Gravity, Metaphorically’, and although the statement tries to tie itself to the past, it’s clear that he’s still trying, and never stopped. Some things last a long time.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.