Album Review: No Answer: Lower Floors by Wolf Eyes
Exceptionally Good, Based on 5 Critics
AllMusic - 90 Based on rating 9/10
Michigan noise gods Wolf Eyes aren't one of the first names in their field without good reason. Their development since the earliest rumblings in 1997 (and further back than that for those with the energy to dig into pre-Wolf Eyes projects) has yielded some of the most staggering and genre-defining sounds of noise and sound art's dense, largely obscured history. No Answer: Lower Floors is the latest chapter in the evolution of the band, and it's an important one.
Noise was born of violence: violence against the ear, against the self, against genre, against social mores and the boundaries of taste, perhaps against music itself (the list goes on). In combining the acidic aesthetics of the avant-garde with the cultural corrosion of punk and industrial, harsh noise produced a potent salt for those with open wounds. What the progenitors depicted was a violence that transcended and preserved the violence inherent in both culture and being a brain in a body.
Dig up descriptions of Michigan trio Wolf Eyes from any time during their 16-year existence, and I doubt you'll see much use of the word “precision.” But their music has always had this quality-- even if it’s sometimes been covered in whirring distortion, brittle cacophony, or psychotic howls. Go back as far as “Half Animal, Half Insane”, from 2002’s Dread, and you can hear them picking and placing their sounds meticulously. Even though the results could feel abrasive or abstract, the attack has never been messy or careless.
If you exclude all the handpainted CD-Rs, split 7", rare cassettes, and recordings scratched onto the hind of a taxidermied white-tailed deer in a limited edition of zero, this is Wolf Eyes' first 'proper' release since 2009's Always Wrong. It captures the group in a state of internal transition at a time when the wider noise scene is evolving, exploding, splintering, dissolving, or perhaps obliterating itself at an alarming or exhilarating pace (depending on how you look at it). So long as you're not easily distracted by what sounds like a serial sex offender whispering into your ear, you could have a jolly good dance to the latest Prurient LP.
Strange to think that in the teeming network of noise musicians only one band has ever achieved something approximating crossover success. Wolf Eyes, the long-running project of three Michigan troublemakers, has ruptured conventions for nearly two decades with loud, uncompromising payloads of absolute discord. Things are different on No Answer: Lower Floors.