Will Schube made a sculpture of Carmelo Anthony yesterday.
Noise Pollution returns. You may have heard some of these tunes, but the column is aimed at showcasing some of the stuff you may have overlooked.
Goodbye, Wild Beasts
Wild Beasts’ discography resembles that of a sculptor’s process: You begin with the slab of marble, slowly refining it into a precise figure or idea; the whittling down of excess material in favor of a concise artistic idea, over and over again, until it’s finished. With the news that Wild Beasts are calling it quits, perhaps their discography can now be viewed as the sort of grand artistic expression they’ve been creating all along.
Starting with the apocalyptic gymnastics of debut LP Limbo, Panto in 2008, the UK group has spent their time as a band slimming their sound into a sort of minimal, operatic funk wholly original and increasingly exhilarating. Their first truly great record, Two Dancers, took the core tenants of Limbo and sliced off the fat, presenting a record sleek and haunting, sexy in its sinister presentation. “We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues” is perhaps their greatest individual effort to date, but the band found their strongest front to back consistency on Two Dancers’ follow-up, Smother.
Smother begins with “Lion Share,” a pulsing, synth-led Oedipal exploration, filled with creepy innuendos, skulking observations, and a piano line that’ll break your heart in two. The group’s sexual meditations are both funny and jaw-dropping, masked by the sheer beauty of singer Hayden Thorpe’s operatic lilt.
While the band’s next two records, Present Tense and Boy King (for now, their last) never reach the highs of Two Dancers or Smother, these latter records make one thing clear: Wild Beasts never had any intention of staying in one place, resting on a particular sound, or sitting upon their successes. Their project was one of constant refinement, and it’s a shame that this concept is now in the past tense.
The music world lost one of the most under appreciated, innovative bands in rock music, and I don’t think an LCD style cash grab breakup/reunion is in the cards. Sometimes bands just run out of steam. Perhaps that’s what happened with Wild Beats. Their discography was one of patience and beauty, stress and tension. With ten new records worthy of attention every week, it’s worth taking a pause and revisiting a supremely neglected band.
Not far from the territory of Wild Beasts’ sinister funk workouts lies Fink’s Resurgam, a new LP from Berlin-based Fin Greenall. Greenall’s sixth record under the Fink moniker is out now on his R’COUP’D label, and Resurgam is a broken shard of slinky post-pop and anthemic downtempo melodies. The guitars are layered with effects, the drums dusty, and Greenall’s voice downcast and desperate.
Album standout “Cracks Appear” centers around the low boom of the drum kit, with Greenall’s voice bouncing around with R&B delicacy. There’s a quiet cacophony to the composition, swells of instruments constantly moving yet controlled by Greenall’s precision as a composer—chops he honed contributing to the Selma soundtrack and helping a teenage Amy Winehouse find her sound. But with Resurgam, Greenall no longer needs to rely on outside accolades to draw attention to Fink. This album is as fine a statement as he’s ever crafted.
Julien Baker– “Appointments”
Music is hard to keep up with. There’s a lot of it. Things slip through the cracks, you spend months listening to the same record over and over again. That’s what happened with me and Julien Baker, an artist seemingly everyone on the internet knew, yet I had never heard of.
Baker’s voice is achingly beautiful, carrying a natural somberness, especially when she layers her voice atop itself in a casual unfolding of strength. Baker recorded her forthcoming LP, Turn Out the Lights, in her hometown of Nashville, and the slight tics of that city’s country scene quietly pervade her latest single, “Appointments.” The entire record is a stunner, pulling apart the little moments that make us tic, cry, laugh, and howl.
Maston– “Rain Dance”
Frank Maston makes instrumental music equal parts Beach Boys and a Morricone soundtrack. The sounds are scorched and warped, records left in the sun too long that somehow sound better with wear. On “Rain Dance,” the latest single from Maston’s forthcoming Tulips (out October 27), he loops a sharp guitar line with the occasional percussive rattle and desert whistles that bring to mind the extreme close-ups of Sergio Leone’s western epics.
Much of Maston’s music has this fascinating second life. Because his sound is so cinematic, so reliant on, and evocative of, popular tales, each song on Tulips is a story in its own right. He’s soundtracking a movie not yet seen, but because of his fine craft and record producer approach, the story is already there.