Disco Biscuits don’t play fair. They write songs, record them for posterity, and then never play them the same way again. Thus, if you fall in love with a recorded version of a song and then see them live, you will almost certainly be in for a shock. Your song, the object of your affection, is torn limb from limb and then put back together by someone who seemingly has no instruction book or familiarity with the original. Luckily, I had no such foreknowledge when I first heard this release. Familiarity with any of the tunes on this live recording would have sent me flying over the edge on to the jagged rocks below. The Wind at Four to Fly is one of those beasts that provoke an emotional response. It is a test of sorts. If you can listen to all two and a half hours (only 12 songs) without making an attempt on your own or anybody else’s life, then you are welcome to the inner “bisco” sanctum. And you are welcome to it.
“Bisco” is what Disco Biscuits and fans thereof call their musical style; it is essentially improvisations on a theme in the vein of, but not quite the same as, a jam session (I don’t have the time or the patience to explain; if you are interested check out their extensive entry on Wikipedia). Jam sessions are where musicians flex their musical muscle in the search for inspiration and that killer idea. A sort of melodic, brainstorming get-together. They should not be confused with performances. A performance [per·form·ance n] is “...a presentation of an artistic work to an audience, for example, a play or piece of music” (interestingly, a performance can also be “...a public display or behaviour that others find distasteful, for example, an angry outburst that causes embarrassment”). A jam session is more like practising. This is the stage before performance. With that in mind, think on how bands like Disco Biscuits can enforce a cover charge to their band practice and now it seems they are being allowed to release a double album of them rehearsing.
Great work if you can get it. I have a feeling that if you were to attend a Disco Biscuits gig, then a mixture of one part their grooves and four parts copious amounts of beer would equal one good night out. However, in the cold light of day the performance just doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny. There are a number of bum notes and missed cues that rear their heads on this chronicle of their old drummer’s last performance with the band. So, for me it kind of misses the mark. However, had I been to this gig I would have a wonderful reminder, or perhaps my only memory, of the event. If you weren’t at the gig or are not already a fan of Disco Biscuits, there is little on The Wind at Four to Fly to grab you. In this respect I suggest that Disco Biscuits are preaching to the converted somewhat. This is how they can get away with the sheer length of the thing.
Furthermore, I would be derelict in my duty if I did not refer this release to the Society of Music Fans for the Elimination of Double-Disc Releases, for my colleague Jeff Vrabel to lock it forever into the vaults of the society’s own Room 101. Over to you, Mr. Vrabel.
Disco Biscuits - Caterpillar