The release of Midday Veil’s third album, This Wilderness could possibly not come at a more apt time in the course of mankind and civilisation. In a world of beauty being ravaged by its occupants, in a time when worldly community is being questioned, tested, and shown up, perfectly epitomises the stark reality but also beauty, globally and intimately, we all are an integral essence of. Vocalist Emily Pothast describes it best with “Lyrically, the songs on This Wilderness are a cycle that explores the self-destructiveness implicit in the civilizing impulse. It comes from a place that is critical, but ultimately acknowledges its complacency in this beautiful, terrifying culture that we all participate in whether we want to or not.”
The release goes deeper than that in many ways too but ultimately the biggest thing about the Seattle band’s new proposition is that it is simply virulently glorious, a musical travelogue of spatial sound, mystique lined textures, and sublime beauty. It is a feast for ears and the imagination, a perpetually giving confrontation that sublimely seduces as it incites thoughts and emotions. The successor to the band’s acclaimed 2013 full-length, The Current, the seven track exploration is Midday Veil creating a new plateau for themselves and for others to seed ideas from.
This Wilderness opens with Babel, the keys of David Golightly immediately conjuring a cosmopolitan weave of sound and suggestion. Initially minimalistic, beats are soon throwing off their restraint to dance engagingly on ears in union with electronic vivacity and the swiftly seducing tones of Pothast. In no time, the song is a busy bubble of sound and activity with the bass of Timm Mason exploring the shadows lining the vibrant scenery, sparked by Jayson Kochan’s guitar, revelling around it. The track is sheer magnetism, a feisty serenade on the senses which just gets funkier, more diverse, and increasingly compelling with every invigorating minute.
There is a darker lining to the song though and equally the lure of Pothast’s lyrical narrative. Her voice alone is siren-esque if in an understated way but though all radiance provides, as the song, a vehicle for brooding shadows which are a stronger presence in the following Cages. Straight away there is a more melancholic feel to the song, in its air and tone even as keys pulsate with melodic light around the mellower and more sombre heart of the song. The percussive coaxing of Garrett Moore adds to the warmer side of the track’s flowing landscape whilst between them Golightly and multi-instrumentalist Mason create a tapestry of melodic suggestion within an evolving sound which as good as besieges the imagination.
The irresistibility of that song is intensified in Empire Is No More, the pinnacle of the album. Around a chilled sonic lure, crystalline shards of keys transfix, enticing the listener into an emerging exotic and sultry stroll. Rhythms quickly have feet and bodies involved as Eastern mystique lines the melodies oozing from keys and voice. There is a flirtatious nagging to the encounter too which through Kochan’s bass, he switching his string prowess on different songs, and Moore’s beats never lessens in potency as the song slips through the sense of past empires, and with an increasingly volatile energy, subsequent turbulence and discord. The song is rousingly mesmeric, at times igniting ears like a mix of eighties band Monsoon and the colder infection of a New Order, whilst persistently inflaming the senses and imagination.
Assumed Stockhausen inspirations prowl the dark elegance of The Water which follows, its haunted atmosphere a cavernous but again intimate embrace of primal rhythms and percussion within slowly revolving, melodically bred aural luminance. Pothast’s voice is dreamy and slightly shamanic, an external lure to inner reflection and accompanying instincts in the sonic, almost erotic, pool of sound cast by band and song. It is pure bewitchment which again has thoughts working feverishly before Circle takes over with its bolder electronic pulses and temptations within a lofty flight of vocal caressing and provocative enterprise. Closing eyes adds to the sense of soaring inspired by the track; celestial warmth soaking the senses’ wings as vocals fly alongside and over darker rhythms amongst sizzling textures cast by keys and the inventive strains of guitar and additional strings.
I Am The War has the body swaying with more urgency next, it’s still restrained but more tenacious energy and melodic resourcefulness touching on essences of artists such as Cybotron, Ladytron, and Propaganda. Lighting ears and appetite with its more classically honed wash of strings, a swift immersion into evocative depths and poetic incitement is unavoidable; and it is the same with closing track Universes. Both songs are individually ethereal beauty; the final track a gorgeous gloom lit haunting wrapped in Siouxsie and the Banshees like, or maybe more so The Creatures, bleak but golden seduction. With ghostly harmonies and limbo-esque sounds, it is simply majestic and another massive peak in the stunning landscape of the album.
Also featuring guest appearances from musicians such as Bernie Worrell (Parliament, Funkadelic), Eyvind Kang, and Skerik amongst a few, This Wilderness is a major moment in 2015, in fact it is possibly the album of the year.
This Wilderness is available from September 11th via Beyond Beyond Is Beyond.
Pete RingMaster 11/09/2015
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