Cyclic Defrost

An Australian magazine focusing on interesting music

Wounded Knee – Minerals Series (Benbecula Records)

Wounded Knee is Scottish dude Drew Wright, and his musical nom de guerre that’s evolved over the past two-odd years from dronecore to something resembling… well, I don’t know – maybe a classically-trained vocalist’s take on Panda Bear?  There are some adjectives that are all too obvious descriptors, so let’s just get them out of the way first: hypnotic, repetitive, cyclic, incantatory.This edition of Benbecula Records’ Minerals Series runs by a pretty standard formula – looped chanting fills the core of the song while instruments (or handclaps, or clicks) file in and form a messy chorus about the choir.  And there is something choral about it, moreso than other examples of vocal looping; perhaps it’s the somewhat formal inflection of Wright’s voice, or the directness of their sound (free of, say, Panda Bear’s countless concert halls’ worth of reverb).  Maybe, too, his accent.  But there’s also something very barber shop about it all.  Doo-wop for the psych’d out slacker?In engaging with this record, there will probably be times when those voices get a little much for most listeners.  Instrumentally, this record is rather agreeable – breathing chords and thin, sticky percussive hits (including cowbell!) fall into looped cycles and wind themselves into a cluttered kind of frenzy that’s somehow also gentle.  However, tracks like ‘Shoddy Bloody Journalism’ are difficult; its four minutes of looped hoots, howls, low notes and carefully chosen (barely audible) words seem to take forever to slip through the hourglass.  Likewise, ‘Anthem For The Call Centre Worker’ features corporate slogans as lyrics… giving you six minutes of listening to (loops of) words most people spend their days desperately avoiding.  The record’s highlight is, unsurprisingly then, the instrumental ‘Summer Haze’ – which at two and a half minutes feels too short.  It’s a subtle drone with just the right hint of edge to it, beautifully done.  ‘New Dawn Coda’ comes closest to pop, so much so that it almost hints at a campfire. Generally speaking, Wounded Knee works better when things move more slowly, or with a more defined trajectory.   Still, there’s a little magic in getting lost.

Jon Thjia

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