Category Archives: Wolf Eyes

New release: Failing Lights – self titled

Failing Lights: Failing Lights
Intransitive Recordings (2010)

The guys in Wolf Eyes are fucking prolific; they put the Yellow Swans boys to shame. These guys eat, drink, sleep and smoke noise both as part of the Wolf Eyes monster and under dozens of solo guises.

Failing Lights is one of many side projects attributed to Mike Connelly, whose best-known work outside of Wolf Eyes is probably the death-march trio Hair Police. I’m no Hair Police expert but this record shits all over anything I’ve heard him produce under that name. It’s spooky, cinematic, and spacious and depends more on atmosphere than noise. A lot like Wolf Eye’s pivotal Human Animal record.

Second track, Revealing Scene carries a haunting hum erratically shattered by bolts of fuzz. It’s horrific and otherworldly, like demons trying to claw their way through from the ‘other side’. Eventually the hum slips into a rattle that builds into a spooky squall of electronic rain, sheets of wobbly noise that rumble like thunder and lightening. Probably a rain of fire in the pits of hell.

This fades into Serve in Silence where Connelly dawdles tunelessly on an acoustic guitar. The Asiatic twang he creates has been cut and pasted into multiple layers and then rinsed in reverb and delay so that everything sounds seasick and dreamy like a feverish hallucination.

Four of these five tracks fall under five-minutes in length, and come across like H’orderves before the epic closing party that is The Comfort Zone. It kicks off with microphone FX which sound like distant storms, then drifts into some more menacing guitar jangle before electronic squeaks and zaps start whirring around like flies. A wobbly bass drone lurks out of the shadows, and then, in a classic ode to some of Kevin Drumm’s finer moments, an accordion style drone emerges from the din, layer upon layer upon layer building a cathartic sense of release to what has previously been a dark listening experience. It ends with a machine like whir, almost like a film projector, nodding to the entire record’s cinematic scope.

You won’t ‘get’ this record if you don’t listen to it from start to finish because the transition from unease to bliss is mesmerising and what makes Failing Lights a fucking classic in the genre. I  love the way Connelly has created an actual album, a journey and this is fast becoming my record of 2010. No shit.

New release: Wolf Eyes

Wolf Eyes: Always Wrong
Hospital Productions (2009)

Every time I listen to Wolf Eyes, scenes from Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre begin flickering through my mind. Vacant desert-scapes; fucked up Hillbillies with rotting teeth; Leatherface slamming a sledgehammer into someone’s head; and that god awful living room filled with bones, chicken feathers and furniture made from left over humans. There are plenty of similarities between  the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre  soundtrack and Wolf Eyes.wolf eyes

So it’s weird that I keep listening to Wolf Eyes despite these ugly associations, huh? The whole attraction is based on the fun of scaring the crap out of yourself. Just like watching a well-made horror movie.

It’s something the band perfected on their last ‘proper’ album Human Animal, which was haunting, violent, dissonant and oddly beautiful. It captured both sides of Wolf Eyes perfectly – the cinematic vs the ugly noise – and took listeners on a murky journey into terror. Always Wrong doesn’t traverse the same highs and lows but it’s no less compelling. It’s a consistently angry affair that reaches back to the live, analogue mayhem of the band’s earlier releases like Dead Hills.

The tracks within Always Wrong hinge on more traditional, song-like structures than I’ve ever heard Wolf Eyes use before. This might have something to do with the abundance of vocals, which feature on almost every cut. Opening track Cellar starts with a muffled rhythm and gentle buzz before Nate Young starts droning over the top in an undistorted (for the first time?) voice about ‘Walls tied with hellish pigs’ and the like. It builds into clanging metal and bubbling cauldrons, along with live, albeit distorted beyond recognition, instruments crashing into disintegrated tape loops, before phasing out in a wash of hiss and buzz. It’s a thrilling ride.

Cellar is followed by Living Stone, a more atmospheric affair that dabbles with a shredded electric guitar and the band’s standard un-synced dub pulse. De-tuned guitars exist heavily on the album, most noticeably on the absolutely brutal Broken Order which pulses and thrashes like an alligator.

During the last couple of years Wolf Eyes have done some amazing work with avant-saxophonist Anthony Braxton (most noticeably on Human Animal). He returns for two tracks midway through this a record and uses his sax to lay the sound of dying animals over some seriously moody mess. He contributes such a unique element to their sound that Wolf Eyes should him make a permanent member. Can you imagine that shit?

For a band that releases music almost as regularly as Merzbow, I’ve always felt that Wolf Eyes are at their strongest on the ‘major’ releases. The rest of the time they tend to sound way too stoned. As an actual album (opposed to a lathe cut, cdr or cassette release) Always Wrong proves my point. You could argue that it’s not as refined or dynamic as Human Animal, but in its own right Always Wrong is an slab of intense, ear-splitting goodness that continues to place Wolf Eyes slightly to the left of your generic noise act. Take a listen if you dare.