Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wild Nothing - Nocturne


Wild Nothing is the pseudonym of Virginia based multi-instrumentalist Jack Tatum. 2010's Gemini was well received by critics and I alike. There was a key emphasis on his ability to create sweet dreary dream pop tracks without indulging in to lo-fi hypocrisy like many other 'one man bands'. Wild Nothing is different in a way of influence and output. Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush and My Bloody Valentine lead the way in Wild Nothings play list. What surprises me about up and coming dream pop / shoegaze artists is that they love the sound more than anything. It's not about Kevin Shields or Kate Bush's kooky appearance and style. The layers and beautiful reverberation attracts Jack Tatum to re-create and personalize this sound, making it Wild Nothing.

The dream pop / shoegaze / indie pop takeover of modern music is quite extreme, not that this is bad at all, I welcome all artists that don't imitate the 80's / 90's surge, but take direction from it. Kate Bush's reverberated synthesizer openings make an appearance for Wild Nothing on the album opener 'Shadow'. I love the chord progression here. Tatum sings lightly and with ease. He almost has a throat-y, bitter style of singing this time around. The strings are fresh with no artificial sounds coming from them. I can't stand an artist that's descended into a sound blockade of reverb/distortion/delay with nothing else visible by ear. Shadow does have a great guitar and string riff which is repeated throughout the track, picking up with the slow moving and backing drumming which never clouds the track with loud and in your face percussion. The bass sounds heavy at times, but this is to be expected. 'Midnight Song' also has an ear catching chord progression with a very dissonant guitar sound. The effects are being used to full potential, with the rhythm guitar sound coming through on the verse. The chorus has a sweet melody with a backdrop of many guitar layers, some light and high pitched, others heavy and low pitched. A good contrast between emotions and sounds are brought to life on Midnight Song. The lyrical content isn't a let down either.

These tracks are complex like My Bloody Valentine, whilst keeping the indie pop feel and freshness of 2012 with acres of reverb. It's not the reverberation that makes this album great, it's the structures and overall final piece. Just like Cocteau Twins and just like Slowdive, it's the final piece that's judged, and Wild Nothing has it all on Nocturne. The title track is a mix between vintage synthesizers and delay effected guitars. The dreary vocal is highlighted like a sunrise. Something tells me this album isn't an August album. The lengthy guitar drones and dark lyrical content (at times) scream for a December / January playing of this album, and I will do just that when the time comes. One of the darkest tracks 'Through The Grass' has a bass heavy synthesizer and Lotus Plaza-esque guitar riff. The delay shines through and brings to light several artists comparable to Wild Nothing. The most noticeable comparison in my opinion would be the dream pop days of M83. The synthesizer reverberation is going nowhere, just like on M83's Saturday = Youth. 'Only Heather' continues the flow of mouth watering dream pop tracks. The moments of instrumentation stand out, nonetheless, Jack Tatum's vocal is brilliant. The chorus is catchy, with the refrain repetition of the tracks title and the following few lines to emphashasize the tracks theme, "Only Heather, can make me feel this way."

Yes, there is a vast majority of artists playing this kind of music ineffectively for many number of recent years.  DIIV, Beach Fossils and Minks come to mind when listening to this album. Wild Nothing has more skill and quality than these artists, it shows. The simplistic one chord progressions on 'This Chain Won't Break' are polished and refined. The drumming and bass are not as audacious and exciting as other tracks. 'Dissapear Always' has a beautiful array of colours brought forward with the eerie soundscapes. The louder vocals are sprayed with reverb and sit eagerly above the delay effected guitar riff again. The similarity between tracks obviously would have been a problem. Even before listening to Nocturne, this potential issue took a seat in my mind. There's a nice variety of guitar music and synthesizer music on Nocturne, Disappear Always does have this exceptionally good closing segment where 80's indie rock and 60's psychedelia meet, great stuff to listen to in a dark room late at night.

'Paradise' is a fantastic track. The chord progressions are to die for. The atmosphere of this track never clashes with the lyrical theme / song structure. Images of a beach come flooding in around the halfway mark, where a small instrumental segment with the four chord synthesizer and layers of instrumentation come into effect. The percussion fades in and out in a circular motion on the speakers. Very basic, yet very entertainign and effective. A build-up forms with the original drum pattern returning with further synth loops and guitar layers. Five minutes and a half pass without even realizing it. Paradise is my favourite track off Nocturne because of the imagery I'm exposed to whilst listening.

Nocturne never backs down. 'Counting Days' has a dazzling guitar riff which has plenty of the old guard of effects applied. The synth sounds come through distinctively, there's a joy of grace and happiness when listening to this track. I really enjoy listening to this album all the way through, the way it's intended, because of the last three / four tracks of uplifting dream pop atmospheres. 'The Blue Dress' is equally as atmospheric. The keyboard riff and faint guitar riff makes the track sound even more exciting than on first hearing. The drumming is very good, with many variations and character. The guitar does have all the passion needed, with it's reverberated and clear sounding textures.

The album closer 'Rheya' has all the excitement and riffs as the album opener. Nocturne is a positive, overall improvement of Gemini in many ways. Tatum has matured his songwriting, the production quality has greatly improved and the human interference of drumming and strings add every bit of quality Gemini failed to administer. From start to finish, Nocturne surprises and excites. The addicting guitar riffs use an array of effects to draw in listeners of dream pop and indie pop. Gemini fans are left in a state of confusion between 'the better album'. This doesn't matter. Nocturne does everything I wanted Gemini's follow-up needed to do. From the bursting strings of Shadow to the hazy atmosphere of Paradise, Nocturne ticks all the boxes.
~Eddie

8.6

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