Sunday, July 31, 2005

Wilderness / The Wilderness / Rating 8.5

There is an older man who lives down the street from me in a halfway house. He wanders by my apartment almost daily and crows at mailboxes and parked cars alike as if he were a baseball umpire or train conductor with terrets. I am fairly certain he has no idea who PIL is but some might say his wild rants are eerily similar to Johnny Lydon. I also believe I have possibly found a vocal stunt double for James Johnson, the singer of Wilderness.

Pretzel vendors, Mark E. Smith, the “peanuts, popcorn, cold beeeah heeeah” guy, and circus ring leaders could all unite and form a support group for the overly pronounced and projected melody challenged.

PFM calling the Wilderness “certainly unique” and "considering the original sound they've created-- and at such an early stage of their career" falls a little short of the truth. First off the label site bio states "Wilderness's debut is the culmination of three years steady work by four dear friends."Ummm...I guess three years is early in some bands's career. Secondly, there are hundreds of bands within the post punk / art rock genre ( political leanings et al) to name as possible influences and Ryan Schreiber even goes on to mention several in his review: Echo and the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, and Eno-era Talking Heads. What is the definition of unique again?

To give a slightly more modern point of reference I might even say Wilderness remind me of Circus Lupus on quaaludes or Lungfish using Modern English’s ringing guitar tones ala “Swans on Glass”. All are equally hypnotizing, haunting and highly repetitive. Their music can also clear a room at a party while at the same time the few left listening will vow them to be the best band EVER. This loose band association (Did I forget to mention they are also both from Baltimore?) led me compare and contrast the PFM reviews for the new Lungfish release “ Feral Hymns” and the Wilderness “S/T”. Written by two different PFM writers, I found their clashing opinions on one similar core style (repetition and more repetition) quite interesting. Mind you the bands are not musical replicas by any stretch of the imagination but they could share two different sides of the same coin. Lungfish now considered by PFM "beginning to pale-- that same steadfast aesthetic feels more like a creative rut than a statement" received a rating of 5.8 while Wilderness earned an impressive 8.5. and this statement "this kind of substantive art-rock is ripe for exploration" *

Lungfish review here :

If I had been given a Wilderness 12” single of “Arkless” as an A-side and “End of Freedom” and Fly Further to See” on the B-side, (As PFM also gives a shout out of awesome to) I would truly believe this band was genius or on the path to something darn close. Unfortunately there are 7 other tracks rock-blocking these three moments of complete audio bliss.

Ultimately it’s Colin McCann’s singular soaring guitar notes that propel “The Wilderness” into something spectacular and he is THE saving grace to an otherwise frustratingly one dimensional band. A high PFM rating seems a little premature for this band in reference to the “S/T” release but if I were to project a rating for their next release, I would give them an 8.5.

* Let this be a warning to you Wilderness, if make the same record 9 more times as Lungfish did, your rating will drop too.