Wrekmeister Harmonies – We Love to Look at the Carnage (Thrill Jockey Records, 21 February 2020)
Hello there, readers. It’s been a little while since we’ve been in touch, I know. That sucks — and it makes very little logical sense. We’re coming up on the conclusion of a second full month of work-from-home quarantine, and with nearly two extra hours per day that formerly would have been spent driving to and from work (and with nowhere else to go, aside from the rare shopping trip for pandemic essentials such as bird food and wine) it seems like I should have plenty of time to spend listening to music and subsequently writing about it for all you fine folks out there. But as bizarre as it sounds, even when there’s nothing else to do, it sometimes feels like there’s less spare time than there used to be. Even though I can literally roll out of bed and throw on a random t-shirt en route to my desk chair a mere three feet away — well, to be honest, it’s probably more of a mental and emotional thing than an actual shortage of available time. Because things are so stressful now, and uncertain and confusing and scary and depressing.
However, a lack of engagement with hobbies or things that bring you enjoyment, due to a lack of motivation due to a general feeling of malaise, often has a tendency to continue spiraling further into deeper levels of depression. I know this very well from plenty of experience. And I am determined not to let this turn into another months-long mental health hiatus. So here is an album I’d like to share with you all today. I hope you enjoy it and I hope however dismal your day might be currently, that this may bring some amount of light into it. Please feel free to react in the comments section below or via any of the various Valley of Steel social media outlets linked either on the far right or the bottom of this page. Thanks, and stay safe out there!
Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (Thrill Jockey Records, 13 April 2018)
As you may recall, Wrekmeister Harmonies hit our Top 15 of 2015 List with their enormously epic outing Night of Your Ascension, with its dozens of contributors and guest stars. Since that time, the eclectic collective has been distilled down to just the duo of founder JR Robinson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw (the same pair who toured under the Wrekmeister name following that album, performing half of a set alone and the other half with Bell Witch as their backing band).
Also since that time, these two people have dealt with a variety of hardships and sorrows, culminating in a relocation from Chicago to Astoria, Oregon — and a lengthy period spent healing (mentally and emotionally) as well as composing, which Robinson referred to as a “cult like affair, just the two of us, thinking the similar thoughts and working them out with hours and hours of conversation, totally alone.”
The result was The Alone Rush, released last month, in which only Robinson and Shaw perform, along with drums by Thor Harris.
Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension (Thrill Jockey, 13 November 2015)
Well… here we are at the end of a dull, dreary Monday — looks like we’ve survived another one. And it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve got something pretty extraordinary to share with you this afternoon. It’s not often that you come across something that seems immediately transcendent — so otherworldly that it fully envelops the listener and transports you away from the surface level of consciousness — but that’s the case with Night of Your Ascension, the third album released by the American “pastoral doom” conglomerate known as Wrekmeister Harmonies. A late-year discovery for me (it just came out at the end of November), this LP nevertheless had such an instantaneous impact that I just had to include it among my list of 2015’s top releases.
This isn’t necessarily the type of material that really benefits from being written about, being described in words, so I’ll keep that part as brief as possible. Further down, you’ll have the opportunity to listen for yourself and get the full experience, and then you’ll understand. And even further down (in the comments section), I’ll be including the details of the group’s current North American tour with Bell Witch, so stay tuned for that!