Marc from a band out of Chicago, Wishgift, clued me into their latest release on Contraphonic Records. I noticed a King Crimson reference in the promo material and that ancient reference was enough to push this to the top of the list last night...I had a little idea of where this would be headed, but I think given the fact that this is such an idiosyncratic genre, it's impossible to predict and that makes this one of those singles that can't help but be completely surprising.
That's exactly what this is...a complete mix of genres, obviously made by dudes who all must have a ridiculous knowledge of music, you don't get to this endpoint place by listening to anything that comes out of a radio, you have to seriously dig and be a student of everything to end up combining these pieces.
But then, Pretty Jenny, takes that ambidexterity and adds vocals with big time attitude that just sells the over the top massive grooves. It's like they are deliberately anti-repetitive melody, going for an obscene amount of changes in unharmonic tones.
If there wasn't such a thing as hardcore prog, there is now. Once they get chorus chanting chorus somewhere around the middle, it goes from audio equivalents of equations to a fist pumping hell ride.
You can hear the hours of work in a track like this, they have to be insanely precise. Damn if you can't play with a band for even a few months and you can't get the simplest chord changes right. Who is this collection of savant musicians who feel the need to challenge themselves with the most difficult material possible?...bastards.
There's a super grungy guitar effect magnifying the finger stretching they have to work on daily to pull this riff off. It's reminding me of those Mike Patton side projects that you almost have trouble relating to on a human level....how do you approach this material? It's like trying to dissect an entire side of Live at the blue note...transcribe this!
The B-Side, 'Cream Acres' settles into a thick distortion groove with a tom pattern and bassline for a few measures, you would think you'd be happy just getting all this together, but that easy melody just doesn't cut it. It takes some getting used to, this super dense playing. They've ignored the last few hundred years of song structure that dictates 'pleasurable' songs are usually created through repeating melodies (Robert Jourdain) the brain needs that repetition to get that moment of anticipation and then confirmation. When that doesn't happen...it becomes work. We both share in the suffering...and good, this isn't something to be taken so lightly played at a high school dance, while you make out in a car...this is something to blow minds at the possibility of something this thought out.
It approaches a kind of sci-fi blues at times, The John Spencer laser meltdown experience. There are thermin sounds and/or heavily cranked guitar effects that are so modulated they practically become synth sounds. There's a classic B-movie sensibility on top of the songsmanship; the attitude, the unusual sounds, a little campy, but all with a heavy, feel...maybe laser rob zombie?
It's the sort of thing that is a little disheartening to be honest. If guys like this are out there, it's pretty much game over for anyone not taking this as seriously as they are.
Check out their tracks and get the single from theirbandcamp page (please be the death of myspace already.) or Contraphonic Records:
Wishgift is a Chicago trio. Reared in the basements and DIY spaces of the city, the band packs a frenetic energy in one concise package- a mix of Fitz of Depression and King Crimson compressed into a tiny room and then let free. The band is a presence. Perhaps a menace. They nearly never stop playing, consistently spreading their loud and distorted gospel all over Chicago and the greater MidWest. Look for them coming your way soon. Look for their Contraphonic 7" "Pretty Jenny/Cream Acres" now.