May 10, 2011

WET HAIR - "In Vogue Spirit" LP (De Stijl)

  Wet Hair have crafted for us their most playful and colorful record to date.This time for the ultra-busy De Stijl label.Shawn Reed and Ryan Garbes have been playing together for quite a while now, both being ex-Raccoo-oo-oons, they display an effortless and natural syncopation, and their musical chemistry is in full bloom on In Vogue Spirit.They seem to find their way back to one another at every turn, whether locked into a deep groove, or spiraling through a ten minute free-form tangent.Their last few releases have shown them gravitate towards a more streamlined, palatable sound, focusing more on carefully structured movements.Reed's low, mumbled vocal style has been transformed into a bright and colorful instrument, and his range has certainly widened quite a bit, too.Garbes' drumming is spot on, as usual, keeping things right n' tight on all fronts.Where as with the earlier, and exceptionally minimal WH releases, it seemed as if he was filling in the gaps and open spaces with his controlled chaos, In Vogue Spirit barely has any of them.The songs are full and fully realized, with the occasional jaunt into abstract improvisation, but the majority of the album is focused and free, tightly wound and coming apart at the same time.

  "Echo Lady" is a perfect example of that statement, with it's breezy organ run and steady bass rumble, jogging along to a simple drum groove.They've taken a poppy psych-rock approach, and traded in the electric guitars for a pile of homemade electronics and deep vibrato organs.Reed's voice has a bit of stylish swagger to it, similar to one-time Night Person -Dead Luke's slightly tone-deaf crooning.It's right where it should be, and perfectly out of tune.Reminds me of La Dusseldorf's less mechanical repetitive pop perfection.THIS is how you start off a record.The following track is somewhat of a return to their minimal kraut leanings, with a breezy tune called "The Garden Room".That old Wurlitzer percussion fades in, possibly set to "Rumba", bringing along a drive of melodic bleeps and blips for the ride.It's a slow and steady drift down a river of analog trickling and casio ripples, and things are starting to sound like Wet Hair.The vocals are a bit incoherent and warbled, but delivered in an uplifting tone, creating some good vibes.There's a bit of knob twisting at one point, as they stray into more free-form synth runs, and then it's right back into Ralph and Florian style chorus hooks.This sort of awesome, stop and go control is all over this record, and the songs just seem to get better and accessibly weirder as it plays on.I wouldn't exactly call them polished, I would call them carefully spit-shined.They've taken their deep electro-collages down a few new uncharted territories, and the results are epic.The days of Suicide-esque blankness seem to be ancient history for Wet Hair, but they are an unpredictable machine, so we will just have to see.Check out their recent splits with NOTV, Rene Hell, and Peaking Lights, and an upcoming 7"/art book on NNF.Total ear and eye candy.

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