Direwires: There's Life After Winter

The limited edition (100 copies!) There's Life After Winter arrives in a DVD case, prompting one to expect a combination sound-video presentation. In fact, it's an EP masquerading as a DVD (there are even film-styled 'credits' included on its back side). But, as it turns out, the absence of visual accompaniment doesn't render the presentation any less apropos, given the panoramic, wide-screen character of Adam Young's Direwires material. The disc's songs exude a contemplative quality yet the trance-like effect isn't achieved through quietude but repetition. In “Awake and Waiting,” for example, melodies flicker and hum over circular rhythms, while dusty melodies repeat hypnotically within a gauzy film of prickly haze in “Oh, Her.” Here and elsewhere, choirs arise from eroded vinyl to form impenetrably dense thickets of blurry noise, voices float over the sunlit sparkle of bright harp picking, and muffled fields of strums and whistles work themselves into states of urgent locomotion. (One of the EP's peak moments, though, is Benoit Pioulard's haunting version of “Oh, Her.” The piece sounds like some lost psychedelic classic from The Beach Boys' Surf's Up sessions and, needless to say, portends great things from Pioulard's upcoming kranky full-length.) In the absence of a visual dimension, Young's debut EP still offers a thoroughly arresting synthesis of natural sounds (voices, acoustic instruments, field elements) and computer manipulations. The ideal visual analogue for Direwires' music might be the image of a whirling dervish, as both deploy feverish repetition to achieve transcendence.

March 2006