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Wolf Eyes – Undertow

Lower Floors Music

Wolf Eyes - UndertowThis newbie from Wolf Eyes is taking the dark broodiness that defined 2006’s Human Animal to new claustrophobic highs. Gone are the headache-inducing colours of the past in favour of something more nefarious. A dirgey treacle filled with disconcerting jolts and sonic debris whipped in sine-winds, tilting diagonals and the distance-shot ghosts of dead elephants.

Blimey, by the time the narration starts up you’re already seriously spiked, attentive to that Petri dish of discomfort breeding between your ears. Then this drool of a voice puts the cherry on top, casting caustic lines into the gloom, picking at its psychological scabs as the corpses of optimism are barbecued to a sickly accompaniment of smeared vulture and the devouring guitar. A menacing psychedelia of reddened ricochets and belching circuitry that looms worryingly in the head with rainbows of wow.

A parade of sonically disturbed vignettes follow, sculpted from the same clammy cloth. The bleakness of “Laughing Tides”, a scraped, sine-sheered continuum of strangled frequencies and distant cries, everything swimming with this repressed vitality that literally explodes in your head. Then “Texas” pushes you further out on more delightfully strung-out textures, a sluggish crawl puckered in muted percussion, bookmarked by diving distends and scraped things, not to mention his permanent stain of squally Coltrane wrongness blooming in shape-shifting Dáli-esque glee. The next track glimmers in actual musicality as bombs of bass attempt to snuff it out, miss their target and explode into the muddy drone-shot surrounds.

As always, the best is always kept for desserts — a fourteenish minute sign-off for all you triskaidekaphobia suffers in an excellent re-visiting of the 40-watt yellowing of the first track. A luxuria of dissatisfaction narrated to the peeling wallpaper, “My brain laments to its own torment”, he goes as this ache of sonics gnaws, each word hanging potently, like the worn rotation of a caged animal chased in sax spectres. The narration slurring, intoxicated, tagged to this meat chug in tempo, sloshing around until a pitch-shifted blot on a crow-picked horizon.

I look over to my Wolf Eyes collection, mighty impressed by what I’ve just heard, pull out an LP at random – ah, River Slaughter, let’s get re-acquainted, shall we?

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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