subota, 2. lipnja 2012.

Liars - WIXIW

Fantastičan, najbolji ovogodišnji album (dosad). Delikatna, tjeskobna, ritmična, spiralna, freaky elektronika. Radiohead proliven po smrznutom Suncu. Vađenje DNK iz krhotina stakla.

"Of all the artists navigating the potentials of the great fracture that has occurred in musical culture over the past decade, it's arguably Liars who have been the most bold, uncompromising and forthright. Not for them the self-consciously showy threading together of disparate musical forms into a gaudy necklace that snaps and scatters into nothing at more thorough inspection. Neither have they bothered themselves overly with worrying about what their contemporaries are up to: They Threw Us In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top was a bitingly sarcastic rebuttal to the New York music scene they were initially lumped into, as was the volte-face to write a violently uncommercial concept album about witches (They Were Wrong, So We Drowned).
Most of the American indie rock fraternity is smugly and coyly self-aware of the postmodern context in which they operate. With an 'um, like, whatever' shrug, Liars' contemporaries over the past decade have indulged in knowing ironic posturing, retromanic whimsy and sense of 'good taste' as appointed by blog culture. In marked contrast, every Liars album has seen the trio of Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross swivel violently on its own axis. Their ever-present fulcrum is a fascination with rhythm and sonic texture, but around that each album whirls as a fantastic, colourful blur, whether the percussive, character-driven intensity of Drum's Not Dead, the pugnacious rock of Liars, or the arid violence of Sisterworld.
But it's perhaps on WIXIW that Liars have surprised us, and themselves, the most. The sound sketches on their Amateur Gore Tumblr, which presaged the release of any music from their sixth album, initially suggested that after the guitar psychopathy might come an ambient balm of relief. This both is and isn't the case. Although first track to be released, 'Number One Against The Rush', has a lightness that steals the gadabout melody from The Cure's 'A Forest', WIXIW is an album that, in the ponderous deep rhythms and hidden vocals of 'Octagon' and 'Flood To Flood', features many Liars tropes of yore, but refashions them for a more electronic delivery. As such, these deep layers ensure that Liars' most accessible album to date is, perversely, one that might take a while to click if you're a long-term fan. Andrew's maniacal screams for "Blood! Blood!" and shooting tramps with guns, Hemphill's controlled aggression and Gross' knack for elegant rhythmic brutalism were a treat for all of us who appreciate our music when it comes as a kick to the solar plexus and the mind.
Liars themselves seem accepting of the gamble they've taken. The album's themes of doubt were neatly, and uncomfortably, reflected by their tough taskmaster - producer and Mute boss Daniel Miller, whose expertise in electronic music was, Andrew told the Quietus, rather daunting.
This leap of faith and new range of instrumentation and writing techniques has created an album where vocal washes sit on top of skittish electronic beats, such as on opening track 'The Exact Colour Of Doubt'. The resulting sound invites comparisons with Radiohead, with whom the band toured and who similarly attempt to constantly push themselves forward. Yet for whatever reason Radiohead have become so insufferably dour and pompous that, aside from the increasingly anaemic wheedle of Thom Yorke's vocal, they sound joylessly inhuman. Liars, however, can never help but allow that rambunctious humanity shine through. You can hear that in the way that 'Number One Against The Rush' ends by seeming to trip over itself in a hurry to announce the jolly, Beck-ish clatter of 'A Ring On Every Finger', which in turn gives way to 'Ill Valley Prodigies'' eerie field recordings of cawing carrion birds, the Brocken Witches of They Were Wrong.... reimagined as LA valley girls. 'Brats', meanwhile, is a juddering drunk punk masterpiece." - Luke Turner

"Liars, it would seem, have an endless supply of ideas. From the punky outburst of They Threw Us All In A Trench, to the witch based concept album of They Were Wrong So We Drowned, via the percussion meets drone experimentalism of Drum’s Not Dead, they’ve consistently explored new ground. Now they've turned their attention to electronica. WIXIW is at the very least up there with their best.
Liars themselves are not out and out electronica artists, and as a result they've been feeling their way in producing the sounds that populate these songs. Although they've enlisted Mute boss Daniel Miller to produce and lend expertise, it is to Liars' advantage that this particular method of creating music is still quite new to them as they've not had time to become swamped in the conventions and processes of the genre. These songs may have been created on computer and using synths, but overall the feel remains organic.
The fact that the band themselves aren't entirely sure how they created some of the sounds on the album points towards a songwriting process blessed with a happy accidents and some apprehension. It's a dichotomy that the album itself possesses. At times WIXIW is a positive synth pop wonder, at others an ambient melancholic haze. Occasionally it combines anxiety and positivity within a single bar.
Opening with The Exact Colour Of Doubt (a title that displays its fair share of ambiguity) Liars quickly immerse themselves in ambient swirls and a restrained vocal from Angus Andrew. With a light skipping percussion and a bass line that’s approaching dub strength, it's a surprisingly gentle introduction. Yet as delicate as it sounds, there’s a sense of foreboding in those coiling electro clouds, and in Andrew's slightly obsessive lyrics. Things get more forceful on Octogon with its driving bass and intergalactic-highway sound effects. Hidden in amongst the skittering beats and electronic layers, Andrew contemplates a relationship - sounding remarkably pissed and entirely uncertain.
No.1 Against the Rush is the first relatively uptempo track on the album, and possibly the closest Liars get here to a pop tune. With its '80s tinted drum pattern and keyboards that riff on Close Encounters style communications, it drifts towards Depeche Mode territory and hints at what The National might sound like should they attempt to go electro.
Where WIXIW differs from its predessors is in its lack of a song that explodes into a flaming ball of fury. There's a pent up anger that resides in much of Liars' material, but such explicit outbursts are absent here. Instead all the feelings of rage and turmoil are hidden within the layers of the songs – not unlike Andrew's wispy, apathetic vocals.
III Valley Prodigies with its use of bird noise offers a modicum of natural sound to what is predominantly an electronic album but, in so doing, creates an unsettling atmosphere almost instantly, calling to mind Hitchcock’s The Birds. The organ of the title track might start off with classical pretentions, but it soon becomes woozy and disorientated, before being engulfed under a tumult of drums.
In other words, the violence is there, but it is being expressed differently this time. The heavy dance thrum of Flood To Flood is the perhaps the only time the Liars of old breaks through. With serated synths, propulsive drums and Andrew's begging of "tie me up in a red ribbon – teach me how to be a person" it becomes weirdly euphoric, utterly threatening and represents the most immediate thrills on the album, although the Underworld stomp of Brats runs it close.
WIXIW is a wonder of an album of endless layers and contrasts to get caught up and lost in. It's not always a pleasant listen, but it is without doubt one of the most rewarding you're likely to hear this year." - Sam Shepherd

"Necessity is the mother of invention. Who’s the mother of re-invention? I only ask as it would be good to find out for Liars. In case they want to get a card or some chocolates. With WIXIW, their follow-up to 2010′s Sisterworld, Liars have once again done something different.
If Sisterworld was a crashing, heavy, homicidal record, full of distortion and twisted shapes, WIXIW is more delicate. More fragile. Both have an undercurrent of fear, but Sisterworld dealt with it by SHOUTING REALLY LOUDLY in the hope that would fool people.
WIXIW is somewhat less pugnacious. More anxious. More honest. And, far more electronic. Here Liars have wholeheartedly embraced their inner IDM nerd.
But, for consistency, it is as brilliant as anything they’ve ever done. The opening ‘Exact Colour Of Doubt’ hits you with waves of synthesised sighs. It’s vaguely ambient and relaxing, in a sinister kind of way. It also feels like an introduction to the album. The toe in the water before they attempt to drown you in the bath.
Because ‘Octagon’ causes proceedings to darken. Skittering beats skid from side to side and Angus Andrew’s sepulchral howl softly cries out at the moon.
Andrew has said he and Aaron Hemphill retired to an isolated cabin in the mountains to write WIXIW. Now, if Hollywood clichés have taught us anything, it’s that isolated cabins in the mountain do have a tendency to bring out the worst in people. Don’t know why, as you’d think an isolated cabin in the mountains should be lovely. Calming. Out there in the countryside. With just the birds and the squirrels. And this creepy shack. And an axe.
But while there is a feeling of isolation and loneliness in these tracks, it isn’t a beard-sporting, manifesto-writing, cache-of-weapons-keeping, isolation. There’s a warmth at the heart of WIXIW.
There are songs on WIXIW which stop you in your tracks. ‘Ill Valley Prodigies’ is the most ominous thing on here: sampled murders of crows, disembodied voices, a simple acoustic guitar and Andrew sounding not a trillion miles away from Thom Yorke. It’s chill-your-bones stuff. But ‘WIXIW’ isn’t far behind. A complex-sounding series of synth lines, wheezing like a church organ from the 24th Century that wrap around and seem to eventually suffocate the increasingly desperate vocal.
Really, it’s just fantastic. Blinding. A blinding record from a band who surprise so often it’s pretty much unsurprising. Gaze upon it in a state of slack-jawed awe" - Tim Lee

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