65daysofstatic
Wild Light


4.0
excellent

Review

by Moses Kim USER (19 Reviews)
September 16th, 2013 | 39 replies


Release Date: 09/16/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The uprising has a proper soundtrack.

When we last heard from 65daysofstatic, the Sheffield post-rock powerhouse was straight out of two back-to-back projects that couldn’t have been more different. The first, We Were Exploding Anyway, took the band in a new direction by integrating EDM into its end-of-the-world fireworks festivities. The other,Silent Running, tapped into a cinematic vein, both a return to 65’s roots and an indication of the grander ambitions the band had sat on for some time. Wild Light, the first 65 release in two years, will naturally inspire plenty of comparisons to both. Like We Were Exploding Anyway, it piles on the electronic atmospherics heavier than ever; like Silent Running, it’s an exercise in balancing futuristic grit with classical gracefulness. The ancestor it truly reminds me of, however, is the band’s sophomore album One Time For All Time. Maybe it’s in how this is one cohesive story being told, a dormant impulse reawakened here as the band dissects and rebuilds itself. Or maybe it’s just my affinity for that album speaking.

Nostalgia aside, there’s a compelling tale here for anybody willing to listen with open ears. 65daysofstatic has always been a vaguely political band, of course. Even its very name is derived from one of numerous urban myths, all of which tap into Orwellian fears and the human psyche's dark side. Not that the band's particularly explicit about these themes, though: in the words of band member Paul Wolinski, “Everything’s political, isn’t it? The world is happening and everyone is making it happen, all of us right here on the front line, making it up as we go along.” There’s sincerity in that humble idea, sincerity evident through Wild Light. From the buzzy tension of “Prisms” to the radiant joy of “Taipei,” the album plays like a sprawling epic, bleeding with emotion, message be damned.

In any case, the only way to take this is chapter by chapter. The disembodied voice that opens “Heat Death Infinity Splitter” hearkens back to the iconic introduction of The Fall of Math, but while that intro set a clear dystopian tone, this one’s a bit more open-ended: “Nobody knows what is happening,” it repeats, before leaving us by warning, “There is a lot of danger out there. Okay?” From there, it’s a dirge moaned by somber synthesizers pitted against staggered beats that jerk the track forward. It’s a low-octane opener, but the band finds room for one of its trademark explosions near the end, just to show it can still pull that trick off. Even in chaos, the band wields surprising and newfound weight, evidence of developed songwriting chops - there is majesty in this madness, a peace with self the band has only found with time.

“Prisms” demonstrates similar wisdom. Built on harsh synths and cagey breakbeats, it forgoes the expected climax for a longer, more interesting build. The balance lost during the band’s first forays into electronica on We Were Exploding Anyway is restored here, with ambient piano and bustling dance in harmony. “The Undertow” follows suit, finishing the first act with one of the band’s most quietly dynamic songs to date. The haunting piano melodies sound as if they’re encased in ice, and even the rising wave of toms and guitar squalls near track’s end is buried under foggy production. There are no sticks of TNT to be found in this tundra; no ghosts from 65daysofstatic past to drive through to get here; no retreat, retreat. The looming apocalyptic doom that has characterized the band since its beginning is still there, but here it’s tempered with a newfound serenity, a blanket of snow covering Pompeii’s remains. This is not the sensationalist prophecy of the Mayans or the proverbial pit of fire talked about in everybody’s favorite holy book. No, this is about life after the end, and it’s a chilling sight.

If the album’s first act establishes its setting, its second jumps right into the action. Long-time fans itching for a return to explosives will be mighty pleased with “Blackspots,” which takes the meticulously scattershot structure of “Crash Tactics” and stretches it into an eight-minute chase scene fraught with tension. A simple syncopated drum loop propels the track forward, while a dialogue develops between a distorted synthesizer and mournful cries of guitars. Without Rob Jones’ drums to carry it forward, this would be a funeral hymn, but there they are, stirring up something stronger. And then four minutes in, the band stops climbing, catches its breath at the peak - and then it comes tumbling downhill in an avalanche of rollicking drums and spiky guitar lines, daring you to catch up. It rivals anything off of the band’s earlier work for sheer thrills, upping the tension just when it’s needed.

“Sleepwalk City” keeps the momentum going with a sturdy tribal beat and more conventional post-rock fixtures, and though it overstays its welcome a bit, it’s a perfectly acceptable transition into the album’s crowning jewel: “Taipei,” one of the finest 65daysofstatic cuts to date. The band’s experimentation with softer textures and dreamier instrumentation (especially the piano) on 2010’s Heavy Sky EP pays rich dividends on this stunning slice of light. The piano echoes a gorgeous, sun-stained melody as we enter port while the drums bob in 5/4 time, like ships gazing up on the titular city: distant, illuminated in fluorescent yellows. There is gravity in the song’s measured rhythms, but there is also a new hope just within its view, a spark the band stokes into a ferocious flame.

On the album's final two tracks, ruin and redemption tangle in an apocalyptic finish. “Unmake The Wild Light” is the showdown. While the first two minutes cut between a gloomy post-rock progression and a dense synth line, the meat of the track is its slow climb towards collapse. So slow, in fact, that if you asked me to pinpoint the exact shifts I wouldn’t be able to. Yet the dread only mounts and mounts: everything is crumbling in a hail of bombs, and we can only watch the carnage. Is that it? Hardly. At album's end, “Safe Passage” ushers in a new age for 65daysofstatic. It opens on ashes and dying embers, scattered bits of piano peeking out here and there. As it dies out, there’s a moment of brief silence before a synth so powerful it can only have come from heaven blasts through the speakers, vaporizing all rubble in sight with a brilliant burst of light. Call it “Radio Protector” for the next generation, a signal sent from above, transmission number zero: we are still alive and we can build something better than what used to be.

This is the ending 65daysofstatic somehow always makes its way back to, the one that keeps the engine fired up after five LPs, countless EPs, and over a decade as a band--this inextinguishable flame of theirs that says the world’s falling apart and we may as well try to put the pieces back together. This is our only hope in trying times, to document the fall and imagine the ways we could stop it. This is the sound of pain and hunger, of reinvention, of revolution. With Wild Light, the band has given the uprising its soundtrack.



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user ratings (88)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm not sure why this review got taken down the first time I put it up, but nonetheless, here it is.
Posted it on MuzikDizcovery a few days ago:
http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/2013/09/album-review-65daysofstatic-wild-light.html

Anyway, I know the consensus has been pretty split on this band, but personally I'm loving every new
direction it's taken since We Were Exploding Anyway. Sure, this album's not The Fall Of Math/One
Time, but then again, very few albums are, and it still captures the spirit of those albums, even if
it's a different sound.

I'm definitely curious to see how fans respond to this one.

bloc
September 16th 2013


35010 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It probably got taken down because it was posted before the release date of the album. Since it's today, you should be okay.

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Superstition

stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you for the clarification! I wasn't sure, but that seemed like the most plausible reason.

Just out of curiosity, what's your favorite 65 album?

bloc
September 16th 2013


35010 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Can't really say. Of the three I've heard, none have impressed me.

stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ah, fair enough.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


3483 Comments


Great review, man, pos. I like your descriptions on the tracks. There are some cool tracks on the record like Taipei, Sleepwalk City, Prisms or Safe Passage. The rest weren't memorable, however, I'll give this a few more spins.

The initial release date in the database was the US one, at the end of October. However, the record is out in the UK and Europe, so now it's legit.

Digging: Brant Bjork - Black Flower Power

stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I would definitely encourage you give this a few more spins: it takes time, but it really grows on you. And thank you for taking the time to read my review!

For people in the US/not in Europe, the album is streaming in full over at Drowned In Sound:

http://drownedinsound.com/news/4146867-album-stream--65daysofstatics-sensational-sixth-album-wild-light

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


3483 Comments


No problem. It's quite a monster review, but it's well written so there is no issue with it. You should ask for a feature, maybe they'll feature it.

stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This may make me sound like a novice, but can you really ask for a feature? : 0

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2013


6505 Comments


In the forums, the Ask the Med thread. ;]

Wasn't really blown away by this after a first listen, but I suspect it might grow still a bit.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


3483 Comments


http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=619237&page=169

This is the link. Just post your review link and ask nicely for a feature. If it happens it happens, if not, maybe next time. However, the review is good and it's a new release.

stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just asked (nicely, of course). Thank you for the advice!

Amebix
September 16th 2013


240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

love the cd, much better than their last effort, almost as good as their first one

StanleyPubic
September 16th 2013


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Most mature release, takes a few spins until its cohesive, dynamic force gets to you. Wonderful melodies, great guitar work, Wolinski's use of piano elements is better than ever, the production is the best they ever had. Can't listen to anything else right now.

Amazing review, great track description, I was listening to the album while reading the review (chances were huge I would be since I'm listening to Wild Lights all the time) and I could only agree with everything you wrote.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


31493 Comments


took the band in a new direction by integrating EDM into its end-of-the-world fireworks festivities.


It did what now?

Digging: Hyperdub - Hyperdub 10.4

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


28787 Comments


nice review, moshe

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


3492 Comments


oh god dev's gonna get angry

stepmaniac
September 16th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ahahaha, I wanted to use a word that encompassed both electronica and dance...didn't realize the connotation EDM has. Maybe I should go change that later.

By the way, I agree with StabnleyPubic (also, welcome!) that this album does a great job of showcasing Paul Wolinski's piano melodies. Some of the more organic moments (parts of "The Undertow," the end of "Prisms," all of "Taipei") are breathtaking.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2013


31493 Comments


I mean it definitely contained electronic elements, but it was never anything overly specific

ProjectFreak
September 16th 2013


1438 Comments


i think i'd like this, will jam at some pt



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