Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wreck and Reference - Content

No artist sounds like Wreck and Reference. Maybe my musical interests and knowledge are a bit narrow, but I doubt I'm wrong about my previous statement. Last year's Youth was not only one of my favorite records of the year, but one of the most intriguing and genuinely different things I came across. As the band's progressed, we are given Content, an EP that has many of Youth 's attributes, but brings them into a whole new world.

"Absurdities and Echos," the opener for the EP, is a water logged subterranean cloud of swirling textures - both haunting and otherworldly - organic drum work and the band's best vocals yet. The vocals are augmented in a way that they reverberate in a lower tone and sound like the singer is trapped far below ground and yelling to the surface through an old well. They ebb and flow over the rich drone of effects that come through as a dark hum, sparkling static, and stabs of some type of melodic synth.

B-side of Content  is "Abhorrence," a track which sounds more akin to last year's  Youth. Making use of higher and scratchier vocals, harsh textures that sit below some type of melodic keyed synth instrument, and ever building drums, "Abhorrence" is much more of a car crash than the slow slosh of "Absurdities and Echos."

What Wreck and Reference do so well is simple; they create moody music that's dense but easily appealing. There's a lot going on in each track, but the band does well to include a tangible melody, an accessible vocal line, or an alluring atmosphere. There's no easy way to pigeon hole the band, and we shouldn't look to, but the music finds itself in the company of only particular aspects of other bands: Swans's penchant to trudge and burn, the cathartic momentum of Neurosis's best works and maybe the moodiness of post-punk. The live drums do well to offset the mostly programmed sounds of everything else and the vocals are dynamic enough to easily convey the mood of the lyrics.

While it's only two songs, I've become enamored and absorbed in Content in a way that didn't come so quickly with Youth. While vastly different, the EP does remind me a bit of Urfaust's Drei Rituale Jenseits Des Kosmos, which is way more trance-inducing and repetitive, but a similarly engrossing drone that relies on ambiance and non guitar sounds.

Preorder directly from Flenser and stream for free at the Band's Bandcamp.

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