Monday, February 22, 2010
High Wolf - Supermodern Temple (Krayon Recordings CS)
I'm a big fan of yellow and, though due only to a very limited number of exposure opportunities, of High Wolf. This tape is yellow AND High Wolf, so it was all good in my book from the get go. Which is to say that I've been jamming this one for going on months now without ever plopping down and penning the item. Plopping's happening in a big way today though, so High Wolf's time is nigh.
First off, a word of warning on the text here. The tape's fonts are practically indecipherable, rendered more as negative image hieroglyphics more than the good ol' fashioned Roman layout I've grown so accustomed to in my time here. So the two sides are either titled "Aztec Fountain" and "Parallel Vision" or something exceptionally different. Pay no mind though, the feel is right. We all know there's a lot of Skaters copyists spanning the globe these days, and who's to blame them? Skaters rule. But High Wolf, despite working in a similar mode on a lot of this stuff, takes the high road (get it?) by keeping his jams in ultra hi (get it again?) fidelity, making for glistening New Age psychedelicisms that squish to the touch and bloom if you put enough pressure on them. Ultra glistening stuff here that takes what feels like a million cliched lines and lays them on one another, mirrors on mirrors on mirrors, until there are too many reflections to find yourself, let alone your karmic state. Gorgeous and aimless stuff here on both sides, with a similar oeuvre being elucidated the whole stretch of tape.
You know, there's a lot of talk about beach culture, 80s nostalgia, blah blah blah on the blog-o-sphere these days but High Wolf is a fine demonstration for me of why those niches are so regrettable. Sure, there's a chillers vibe here to be certain, but not at the expense of a unique voice and honest vision. To be fair, there's a lot of stuff that's much more so that thing than this, but the general feel is there: slow beats, gliding melodies, fragments of vocal-sounding Beach Boys buildup. But it's all nill if it cares more about being that than being itself. High Wolf could easily be thrown in the mix of hypnagogic hoopla and released with a Ninja Turtle thrown on the cover but it isn't. In fact, the cover's practically illegible, letting the sounds make the statement, just as they should.
And for the record, it's not so much the concepts that I take issue with. It's the deliberate pigeon holding of groups who deserve far more credit than to just be likened to one another. Anyway, tight album from the hitherto unknown to me Krayon Recordings. Seek it out and see what's cracking.