Wreck and Reference
Absolute Still Life


4.0
excellent

Review

by Taxt USER (7 Reviews)
July 20th, 2019 | 45 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Equal parts contemplative and contemptuous, Absolute Still Life is a must-listen for fans of heavy experimental music.

Wreck and Reference’s latest effort marks the most drastic change in songwriting between albums in their discography. The balance has been inverted away from furious, blistering vitriol, which dominated earlier albums, in favor of a more hypnotic, meditative approach. Moments of explosive abrasion are still an important element of their sound, but on Absolute Still Life they function as punctuation instead of the baseline. ‘What Is A Gift’ is the only song that sustains cacophony from start to finish, while other tracks like ‘Eris Came to Me at Night’ or ‘In Uniform’ smolder without ever erupting entirely. As the dominant sonic focus has shifted away from bombast, melodic elements have picked up the slack. Resonant bells, piano, and Forest Swords-esque vocal samples have been clarified and appear often. A wide range of sampled tones really fill out the songs and diversify the overall sonic palette. It’s worth mentioning the production here; even at the densest, busiest moments, every layer occupies its own space without becoming muddy.

The album's stylistic deviation is furthered by the shift from acoustic percussion to electronic. While Ignat Frege’s tempestuous drumming has been a central part of previous records, the transition to entirely electronic drums allows the band to create more detailed, layered compositions. Anyone concerned that losing such a central part of the band’s sound need not worry: the experiment pays off.

Equal parts contemplative and contemptuous, the lyrics are strong as they ever have been, grappling with despair, mortality, and nihilism. Well-trod territory for this band, to be sure, but they’re well written, strange, and often compelling. The vocal delivery leans toward spoken word quite often, punctuated by Ignat’s tortured bellow (I don’t think Felix Skinner screams once throughout the entire runtime, another drastic departure). Anyone not on board with Wreck and Reference due to vocals and lyrics probably won’t be won over here, but for devotees this is another solid offering.

Eight years and four albums in, Wreck & Reference manage to keep finding ways to evolve and refine their sound. Expertly crafted, hypnotically atmospheric, and brimming with textural details, Absolute Still Life is a must-listen for fans of heavy experimental music. Don’t let it fly under your radar.



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Slex
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


7877 Comments


Good write up dude
Interested in trying this one out

Digging: We Are Only Human Once - The Prettiest Boys in Town

Confessed2005
July 20th 2019


4977 Comments


Sounds pretty interesting. Never heard of these guys either.

Ashtiel
July 20th 2019


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i've given this album two listens so far, and what bewilders me the most at present is i still can't pin down what is going on with the rhythm in some of these tracks. the instrumentals -sometimes- feel hip-hop esque? at least on "In Uniform" and a few others I can't remember right now.

Digging: Oh Sees - Face Stabber

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Awesome review man. Thank you for doing this album justice. It's so worthy of at least a little bit of hype around here.



I highly encourage anyone interested in gritty experimental music to check this out.



Digging: Knocked Loose - A Different Shade of Blue

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


7877 Comments


Oi I’ll be the judge of that

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Vocals might not be for everybody but I personally love them. Felix and Ignat both have very unique, distinct styles in their delivery that are disturbingly intriguing. Will be awaiting a report back Slex.

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


7877 Comments


Will listen tonite

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

m/



What Is A Gift is an absolute mindfuck.

Ashtiel
July 20th 2019


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

my bewilderment with the instrumental palette aside this is easily one of my favorite albums that have come out this month.

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Agreed. This album sounds just like the art. Vile. Messy. And definitely gross.



Yet somehow, It's beautiful and welcoming. Catchy even.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


9939 Comments


Want is a blast, going to check this one

kevbogz
July 20th 2019


1456 Comments


sounds like a poor man's Why?

Digging: Starflyer 59 - Silver

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm gonna Hulk Hogan leg drop all of you if you don't listen to this.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


9962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sounds like an intriguing release if nothing else. Must say that spoken word vocals are generally a miss for me, not sure how I feel about them being a central element here.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

Taxt
July 20th 2019


1346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ I generally agree, I've encountered that a lot lately in screamo bands and it's an instant turn off. They work for me here because they're not so painfully fucking earnest





I think Eris is my favorite track at this point, love that bridge

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


9962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What kind of music is this anyways? Pardon my ignorance, not sure exactly what to expect, this might be some unknown territory for me.

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Experimental Noise/Avant-Garde is as close as I can get to categorizing this album.



It's pretty difficult to classify. It's just... really fucking weird. You have to hear it for yourself. All I can say honestly haha.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


9962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Welp I can get down with weirdness. I'll try it out.

JayEnder
July 20th 2019


4971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hope you dig man.



Eris is fantastic. Lyrically one of the most compelling on here.



A Mirror is breathtaking... that chorus though. Wow.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2019


9962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gonna be heading to bed shortly but I've added this to my running list of 'shit to listen to.' Generally, 2019 stuff takes priority, so it's in the pipeline. Will report back!



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