– The White Hotel, Manchester –

Divide and Dissolve

Divide and Dissolve

The White Hotel’s very foundations are shaking. The metal shutter behind me is practically part of the show, vibrating and reverberating as doomy Australian post rockers Divide and Dissolve (D&D) absolutely destroy all notions of noise that I’ve ever experienced, taking the concept of ‘you can actually feel the music’ to another level completely. My internal organs are buzzing, and even through my earplugs my eardrums feel fizzy, as the sheer force of the noise created by Takaiya Reed and stand in drummer Oliva (founding member Sylvie Nehill is taking a break for this tour) penetrates every cell in my body. It’s quite the experience, unlike anything I’ve encountered before, and the result is transcendent – you have to let the music take over your body and see where it takes you.

In an interview with the Quietus around the release of their third breakthrough album Gas Lit in early 2021, Nehill said “our music is designed to affect people’s bodies. We’ll use whichever frequencies and paces and textures convey our ideas most effectively”, and this is exactly how the evening plays out. After the first couple of astonishingly bone rattling tracks, where the foundations and layers of Reed’s clarinet and colossal guitars (fed through so many amps the mind boggles as to how they don’t all blow the venue’s circuit boards) are matched by Olivia’s thunderous drumming to create the storm of low end noise the band are known for, Reed takes a breather to speak to use about D&D’s MO. In a moving speech, she tells us how due to the songs having no lyrics, she wants to add context to their music and convey meaning. She speaks about wanting to abolish white supremacy, end slavery, fight for reparations and the giving back of land to indigenous people, referencing her own history and ancestry in a thoughtful and beautiful way. She does this with a huge beam on her face, and says that their music comes from ‘a place of love and hope’, and that change comes from talking about these issues, and that by talking to us she hopes we will talk to others, thus leading to the changes our fractured society so desperately needs. It’s rapturously received by a respectful audience, and makes the rest of the show all the more powerful – those low end frequencies rattling our bodies are linked to reshaping of society, standing up for the marginalised, the displaced, the disrespected.

I first saw D&D support Low at the cathedral earlier this year. Just last week the world lost Mimi, Low’s impossibly beautifully voiced drummer, and Reed pays tribute to her before one track tonight, dedicating it to her and saying that it’s about people believing in marginalised people’s lived experiences. It makes the sludgy dirge that follows almost impossibly moving – I had no idea music as heavy as this could do that to me. D&D are an overtly political band, quite the achievement for a group with no lyrics. They let their music do the talking, and their words, be it on stage or in interviews, add the context; it’s a potent mix. In the same Quietus interview, Reed says:

“It feels extremely appropriate for us to continue to evolve along with the struggles of our people. You hear of victories, but also you’ll hear about someone’s land being fracked, or them extracting some resource and displacing people. It’s an ongoing struggle, pushing back against the colonial project. I feel that every day that Black and Indigenous people of colour continue to survive and exist, that is a victory.”

D&D will continue to fight for these people, stand up against the imperial colonial atrocities that have taken so much from so many people (and continue to do so), and they will do it by sheer force of their noise, and their conviction. A genuinely astonishing show.

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