The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Whirr: Sway (Graveface Records, 2014)

Aridez

Ésa es la sensación que me deja este tercer trabajo de los de Oakland. Una cierta sensación de monotonía, de hastío. Demasiados trucos ya conocidos, clichés que han ido repitiendo hasta llenar un álbum que, a pesar de ser intenso, pienso que se pierde algo en esa cierta uniformidad de sus ocho cortes. Podrían haber aspirado a mucho más.


“Where Pipe Dreams dared to slash, soar, and even rock, Sway sits still. Moody and indrawn, it’s an album that seems to be about nothing in particular; even its song titles, rendered almost entirely in monosyllables like the band’s name, are vague and diffident. “Dry”, “Clear”, “Lines”, “Feel”: These are not generous words, and that sense of abstraction, distance, and distillation is reflected in the music. “Dry”, to its credit, is anything but; aqueous and shimmering, it’s the album’s best track, an ode to the vastness of sadness that uses surges of distortion to smear its melodrama into an impressionistic apparition. Sway may tend toward monosyllables, but it’s not monochrome. Bursts of light and vivid afterimages color the plodding thrum of “Clear”,  an immersive song that sounds like trying to swim in a sea of simple syrup. “I will…” sings Bassett under his breath before letting the line melt into the ether. The next word isn’t even discernable, and it’s almost better that way.
On the other hand, “Mumble” is one of Sway’s less compelling passages, a relatively flat and featureless hum; much of the album flows by similarly, despite high points such as the title track and “Lines”, both of which are textbook studies in classic shoegaze craft, complete with foamy, boy-girl harmonies and curlicues of sluggish feedback. But in stripping shoegaze to its essence, something is lost. Above all else, Sway is shoegaze music about what it’s like to like shoegaze music. Even the second-tier shoegaze groups of the early ’90s wound up trying to evolve in some way, whether it was Chapterhouse’s electronic-leaning Blood Music or the Boo Radleys’ Pet Sounds-indebted Giant Steps.
Whirr haven’t shown a hint of that kind of adventurousness yet, nor is there proof that they even want to. Granted, there’s something to be said for a shoegaze band that’s stuck in the sort of pensive, hypnotic stasis evoked by their music; but with so many bands right now—including Deafheaven—striving to recontextualize shoegaze for a far different time and place, being trapped in the amber of the past, as beautiful as that can be, has its limitations. In its winning attempt to paralyze you, Sway may have paralyzed itself” (Pitchfork)

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27 noviembre, 2014 Posted by | Whirr | Deja un comentario

Whirr: Around (Graveface, Ep, 2013)

Desilusión

El último trabajo editado hasta la fecha de Whirr no tiene nada que ver con Pipe Dreams (TJB, Dic.2012), en ninguno de los sentidos.
En primer lugar porque no tiene ningún nexo de unión con aquel, aunque la impresión que se me vino a la cabeza fuera que quizás fuese algún tema de Pipe dreams con añadidos. Antes bien, son cuatro temas absolutamente independientes de su predecesor.
Y en segundo, porque Around es un disco absolutamente diferente con respecto a su anterior trabajo. En el aspecto sonoro, básicamente, porque este Ep (aunque dura cerca de media hora) confirma que la banda es capaz de tirar por la calle de enmedio y dedicarse tan sólo a los muros de sonido, a las capas y capas de distorsión no siempre controlada, al ruidismo más crudo pero en forma de cortes extensos, largos, y por qué no decirlo, monótonos.
Porque ahí radica el problema de Around. En la extensión de los temas. Mi impresión es que nos encontramos ante los temas descartados de Pipe dreams incluidos aquí o quizás regrabados. Lo cierto es que la morriña y la ensoñación se apoderan de los oídos de quien escribe con una y otra escucha. No termino de engancharme a ningún tema. Son algo así como baladitas infantiles extendidas y alargadas a ritmo de tortuga. Acaso en Swoon la banda parece recuperar un cierto brío, pero pronto es dejado de lado.
Las letras son absolutamente cuasi ininteligibles, y aunque en la crítica de Pitchfork afirmen que lo importante en el Shoegaze no son las letras… hombre, algo ayuda.
La conclusión final no puede ser positiva en ningún momento. Whirr ya tienen el estatus de ser una de las mejores bandas neo-shoegazers y no creo que les hiciera falta un trabajo como Around para reivindicar no sé que posición en el panorama musical actual. Prescindible.

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Whirr just happens to go about it the same way over Around’s half hour and, as a result, the record focuses more on juxtaposition and texture than impression. They work with fairly commonplace dualities: babymaking music under the threat of apocalypse, fluttering vocals against flagrant guitars. Most of all, Whirr use brittle material to create an impenetrable, impervious wall of sound. All of this stuff inevitably traces back to My Bloody Valentine and with the distorted guitars and cooing vocals so distended they sound a bit modal, you can imagine m b v in a metal mood. With enough scrutiny, the four tracks here distinguish themselves: “Keep” stands out on account of moving with a swinging gait rather than a plod, evoking a monstrous cover of Cocteau Twins ca. Treasure. It also contains the clearest and most idiosyncratic lyric– Esfandiari breathes “insecurities make me shy,” punctuated by a startling thrust of pulverized guitar. That’s how all the immediately striking moments occur here– there’s a small break before the low end hits and the distortion surges even further into the red, the loud/soft dynamics of grunge given shoegaze exaggeration in terms of both volume and tempo.
The tidal pull and deep blue-black disposition of Around creates an ambience that makes for an easy selling point– Pure Moods music for people who dream about the kind of vacations where they sit alone on a freezing beach at night. Is it pretty? Of course it is. But how much of Around’s beauty is attributable to Whirr and how much of it’s predetermined due to natural forces? Without an insatiable need for shoegaze that can get doomy without edging into metal, it’s tough for the listener to ascertain what exactly is at stake on Around. You’re not here for the lyrics, though it is worth noting that while the central refrain of “Drain” (“drain me”) may not have been used verbatim in any My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive song, it’s the basic sentiment that’s driven the genre since the beginning– the listener submits to the artist’s pummeling sound in exchange for cleansing and catharsis. But, on Around, Whirr don’t elevate themselves beyond the level of a listener; instead, they remain supplicant to their influences” (Pitchfork)

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9 agosto, 2013 Posted by | Whirr | Deja un comentario

Whirr: Pipe dreams (2012)

cover_[plixid.com]

La calle de enmedio

Después de un año y de un cambio de consonante fricativa en su nombre, Whirr (formerly known as Whirl), reaparecen con su álbum de debut propiamente dicho (Distressor, 2011, era más bien un Ep alargado); los californianos vuelven a la escena musical con este Pipe dreams (2012), un disco en el que continúan con lo comenzado en Distressor, es decir: mezcla más o menos amalgamada de todos los elementos más destacados del Shoegaze: Noise-Pop, distorsiones, ambientes perezosos, teclados, voces etéreas… Whirr tira un poco por la vía de enmedio, intentando mezclar, digamos, ambas corrientes. Lo mismo aparecen con temas lánguidos y algo somnolientos (aunque no menos intensos): Flashback, Reverse, Formulas and frequencies, Wait, Hide, Reverie… Que con la fórmula “opuesta”: Junebouvier, Bogus, Home is where my head is, Toss. Personalmente, les encuentro más encanto a este tipo de temas en los que dan rienda suelta a la energía ruidosa, como en Home is where my head is, el perfecto arquetipo de tema Noise, donde capas de distorsión arropan la sugerente voz (muy en segundo plano, de Alexandra) en una arquitectura muy noventera.
En esta “dualidad” quizás radique el encanto de su música. Si hace poco hablábamos del segundo álbum de Ringo Deathstarr (Mauve, 2012) como uno de los mejores discos del año y desde luego uno de los mejores émulos de la trilogía fantástica Shoegazer (Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive); con Whirr y su Pipe dreams no podemos dejar de ser menos y señalarlo como otro de los discos merecedores de permanecer en la memoria musical de este año que nos disponemos a cerrar en breve.

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“The Bay Area sextet Whirr‘s Distressor EP was an underrated highlight from 2011’s so-called “shoegaze revival revival,” where they and like-minded bands No JoyWeekend, and Young Prisms packed enough volume to blow the doors off venues too tiny to accommodate their overwhelming sound. While Distressor was focused and enjoyable, the seven-song EP was pretty uniform in terms of sonics and songwriting. The group’s new LP, Pipe Dreams, finds the band, formerly called “Whirl”, not only broadening and improving its old sound but also nudging the margins of it, establishing an identity in a style that so often relies on blurry facelessness.
For starters, few shoegaze albums would have the moxie to include a song like “Formulas and Frequencies”, which explores texture with an adventurousness that goes beyond tweaking effects pedals. Built around acoustic guitar, piano, and singer Alexandra Morte’s floaty soprano, the song is melancholy almost to the point of being a dirge, a slow drift that inches toward the six-minute mark. Pipe Dreams revels in more downtempo fare, from the colossal build of opener “Reverse” to the slowcore of “Wait”, while adding a bit of heft to songs like “Hide” and “Flashback”. (Guitarist Nick Bassett also plays in Deafheaven, and the violent guitar textures on some of the songs here aren’t incredibly far removed from those of his other band.) The autumnal, downcast spirit that inhabits the album might come as a surprise to those who wore out the comparatively bright Distressor and last year’s June 7″.
The languid pace is broken up by a handful of uptempo tunes, including songs like “Junebouvier” and “Home Is Where My Head Is”, which will inevitably draw comparisons to shoegaze’s Big Three (Ride, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine) due to the overdriven rush of layered guitars. But this is indicative of the limited frame of reference a lot of people have when it comes to shoegaze. Although Whirr share some similarities with the aforementioned bands, the songwriting on Pipe Dreams’ more propulsive offerings has more in common with the genre’s lesser-known predecessors, such as Velocity Girl and Pale Saints. Songs like “Bogus” and “Toss” are closer to a glossy, widescreen version of noise-pop. But even during its faster, punchier moments, the album never brightens all the way, maintaining an overcast tone from start to finish.
Pipe Dreams ends with the pillowy effects and minor-key guitars of “Reverie”, bringing the dolorous feel of the album around full-circle. However, its sadness manifests itself in a variety of ways. It’s dense and powerful one minute and spacious and quiet the next, never settling into one mood long enough to become stale or seem one-note. With the broadening of their sound and the maturation of their songwriting, the album marks a pretty vast evolution to go with Whirr’s subtle name change” (pitchfork.com)

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13 diciembre, 2012 Posted by | Whirr | Deja un comentario

Whirr: Part time punks sessions (2012)

Part Time Punks Sessions cover art

“Northern California’s WHIRR (formerly Whirl) make an effects-laden noise that is as blatantly loud and heavy as it is beautiful, giving the sounds of 90’s shoegaze a widescreen update for the post-millennial era. The young sextet’s wall of lush guitars, breathy vocals, dreamy synth and thunderous drumming propel listeners into a near-cinematic realm where instantly catchy melodies and emotional, enveloping atmospheres hang in perfect balance. The group’s debut album, Pipe Dreams, was released by Tee Pee Records this past March. Permanent Collection started as the solo project of Jason Hendardy in 2011. The 12” EP Delirium was released last summer on San Francisco’s LogLady Records. The record is a template of what has become the Permanent Collection sound: pop structures swathed in hazy guitars. In late 2011, Hendardy recruited locals Megan Dabkowski, Brenden Nerfa and Mike Stillman and immediately began collaboration with them to write the first full-band album in their new rough-and-tumble practice space in San Francisco’s notorious Bayview District. Robert Christgau described Sonic Youth as “not peering into the fissure (but) barreling down the turnpike like the fissure ain’t there.” No other contemporary pop group strives to mine that mentality like San Francisco’s Permanent Collection does. The band’s punk infused, fuzzed out pop will leave your ears ringing and your heart stinging. For the forthcoming LP, Newly Wed Nearly Dead the band turned to cult music icons Monte Vallier (of Swell/Half-Church and owner of Ruminator Audio) and Kramer (producer of groups such as Galaxie 500 and Low) for recording and mastering. Carving out new territory for the band, this album will have your brain crooning and undoubtedly fall into your subconscious. Sharing their namesake with a song by predecessor noise pop group The Lilys, TENNIS SYSTEM are keeping the legacies of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and the Jesus and Mary Chain alive with their expansive, catchy-as-hell pop songs. Matty Taylor and Misha Bullock are masters of loud and dirty anthems, but rising above the noise that blankets them are Taylor’s beautifully sung, dreamy lyrics inspired by both love and art, from the drawings of Egon Schiele to the writing of Aldous Huxley.Teenagers, the group’s second LP, was released by Kill/Hurt in December of 2011″ (kcrw.com)

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13 diciembre, 2012 Posted by | Whirr | Deja un comentario

   

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