Obsessive placement of sound within a delineated order pushes Manchester’s much-discussed Martial Arts to a further, enlightened level of collective artistry with only their second single, Defector. Provoked, held in place, soothed and broken to shrapnel shards by competing forces of coherent, dream-encroaching riffs and the indeclinable will to fight rather than fade, the five-piece’s restless commitment to ‘playing the studio’ like the stage has scorched through to new layers of incessant, experimental new-wave/post-punk nearly-pop.

Distracted by recording as they theorise, dismantle and remake the band’s sound to motivate and involve audiences in the room, Martial Arts’ opening offer to streaming services was the March release of Warsaw, a meticulously-fractured debut of multiple, engrossing chapters. Gatherings in dark corners of major cities continued following the release with a run of invitational shows with So Young and Permanent Creeps in London, Akoustik Anarkhy in Manchester and Sheffield with Jarred Up, finding solidarity in fellow travellers of similar, ill-fitting unconformity on the road.

That the essence of performance and worn musical and societal orders confound and motivate them hasn’t struck accessibility off their agenda, as instantly heard on Defector’s looping guitar hook. In the process of toying with tunings, and reading about early-20th Century Chinese military general, Shi Yousan – nicknamed ‘Defector General’ – Martial Arts hit an effective mid-point between their emergent, conceptual trials and long-trusted forms of expansive, shoegaze-mirroring song construction.

Singer and co-songwriter, James Marson says: “Defector is about the introspective struggle, helplessness and feelings of responsibility towards the disparity that our generation is faced with. Knowing that you have the potential to benefit others, but not knowing how to, and this creates frustration due to deception in the society we exist in.

“We’re trying to build ourselves platform to be heard with an emphasis on positive change instead of self-indulgence, despite the world itself feeling selfish. This encapsulates the motive behind not only the track itself but also us as a collective.”

Colliding like-minds, Martial Arts head out on a mutually-arranged, co-headline tour with friends and peers, Nice Swan-signees, splint, through May. Opening at Sebright Arms in the capital to reconfirm their presence as a gathering force before London’s assembled opinionators, a month prior to their overseas debut in Paris, the full list of confirmed Martial Arts UK and European live dates are as follows:

Fri 17 May – Leeds, Brudenell w/splint
Fri 24 May – Halifax, Grayston Unity w/splint
Sat 25 May - Manchester, Akoustik Anarkhy at The White Hotel w/splint
Thu 27 Jun – Paris, Supersonic w/They’re Gonna Be Big

Living together in the back-to-backs of puddled and pot-holed South Manchester, the band – made up of Marson (vocals/guitar), Matty (guitar/vocals), Browny (guitar), Jude (bass), and Tom (drums) - tasked trusted producer, Seanda McPhail of the city’s renowned Airtight Studios with meeting Martial Arts’ precise vision. Defector was mixed by former Spring King leader, Tarek Musa.

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