Release Date: Nov 4, 2008
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
On their third full-length, the members of Baltimore’s Wilderness have delivered on their name’s promise yet again. Forget the shimmering Inner Harbor and look more toward industrial wasteland surrounding a city: abandoned train yards, derelict warehouses, or just rolling emptiness stretching past the horizon. More than just an album, (K)no(w)here is a dynamic symphony.
Two years since Vessel States, Baltimore art-rock four-piece Wilderness return with their third album, written to be performed as part of sculptor Charles Long’s Whitney Biennial show in New York earlier this year. Long has form when it comes to this sort of thing: in 1995 his Amorphous Study Body Center comprised a series of sculptures from which snaked headphones playing Stereolab tracks. Possibly the most appealing thing about Wilderness is how utterly indifferent they seem to be to musical fashion: their three albums to date form a triptych across which their concerns and their methods remain essentially the same.
Over the course of Wilderness' career, each album has been a darker entity than the last. Even more downtrodden and more languorous than Vessel States, (k)no(w)here downshifts gears again with half-time drum thumps, longer stretches of time between picked guitar notes, and increasingly simplified basslines. Written for a visual art performance at 2008's Whitney Biennial and conceived as one long, winding musical piece, it's almost as if the band shared a bottle of extra strength cough medicine before this session in order to slow the pace of songs like "(P)ablum" down to such a deliberate crawl.
On their first, self-titled album, Baltimore’s Wilderness had 10 tracks. Their second, Vessel States, contained only nine. And their new record, (K)no(w)here, features a spartan eight. This movement is not merely a numbers game. It is a trend worth taking a look at, to see where the band has been ….
“See see/What what/You you…as we are the evidence. ”It’s not until Chinese Whisperers pulls itself from its rut of an intro that (K)no(W)here begins to sound like an album, or at least like a collection of cohesive and composed pieces of rock music, thick undercurrents of bass rhythm magically appearing as guitarist Colin McCann’s repetitious array of amplified swipes at dead air learn form and squeal under a heightened and confident tempo. Up until this point, art-rock quartet Wilderness, seem content to compile arced wisps of dissonant guitar noise over mostly sedate backdrops that exist simply to crawl along unnoticed.