Thursday, May 10, 2018
Listen: LWW - "CTP"/"PNO"
After the release of their brilliant sophomore record Both Lights in 2012, Portland duo AU have largely confined themselves to their Pacific Northwest stomping grounds as multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland and percussionist Dana Valatka pursued more ephemeral projects like Wyland's year-long collaboration with the Camas High School Choir Program. While much of his works since Both Lights has largely been confined to that of the rare live set, Wyland more recently announced a return to recorded music in form of his new project LWW. Where AU began as solo project that eventually grew to include Valatka and Like a Villian's Holland Andrews, LWW sees Wyland setting off on his own once again and exploring his composer side in the form of instrumental pieces that are largely improvised.
Where AU married Wyland's experimental interests with an unmistakable pop delivery - LWW is about the exploration of everything from different tonalities to alternate tuning systems. "CTP", the first single from Wyland's LWW project, is multi-faceted rumination on minimalism and timbre. Where AU largely pushed everything to its absolute conceivable limits and then pushed them some more, "CTP" covers a lot of ground in it's nearly 10 minute sprawl but takes it's time getting there as it slowly unfolds making the most out of silences, spaces, breaths, and how particular sounds react before Wyland begins the slow work of layering them on top of each other and weaving them around each other. "CTP" unfolds like a science experiment, it's slow burning methodical nature a series of hypotheses that Wyland verifies and extrapolates upon with the most conclusive textures proceeding forward into the song's proceeding part. Appropriately, "CTP" is the only piece on 3PE that isn't a purely improvisitory endeavor, rather Wyland recorded and revisited it and stacked layers upon it. It's meditative - also featuring hymnal melismatic vocal lines at the apex of the more contemplative section of the piece.
"PNO" arrives in stark contrast, a piano-based improvisation that seems much less furtive in its development. Where "CTP" contains an array of sounds and layers, "PNO" is presented with a much more simple delivery. Though the speed and fervor at which Wyland offers his thoughts is impressive, it's all largely in the realm of what is possible for one man to do on a piano. "CTP" makes you question how many hands are involved in LWW where "PNO" just makes marvel at the skill of what a single man can do. Despite consisting of varying energies, "PNO" follows a similar if not swifter method of evolution. Where "CTP" cautiously blooms into sound after it's church organ like chimes, "PNO" erupts with a deluge of sound. Its polyrhythmic cascade, essentially a burst of melody even as Wyland riffs on his initial motif and creates an intriguing theme and variation element to his one take composition.
Though it's not entirely certain if LWW is meant to entirely replace AU as a creative vehicle for Wyland, LWW establishes that the man is still practically bursting with worthwhile musical ideas and the innovative spirit that's at the core of AU is alive and well in LWW. In fact it's hard not to hear either "CTP" and "PNO" and not think of the band. Perhaps that's because of they were largely recorded right after the release of Both Lights with the first thought, best thought method of composition and recording seemingly the only real separation between the all out maximalist tendencies of AU. And yet, LWW is very much it's own thing and better for it. Wyland embarks on a quest to explore his compositional interests as well as challenge himself creatively through setting up a series of restrictions to work through and in the case of "CTP" and "PNO", our first taste of the new project, largely succeeds in creating fully formed compositions that are as engaging to listen to as they were to create.
3PE, the debut album from Wyland's new project LWW is out July 20th on the Leaf Label. You can pre-order the record digitally or on limited edition 12" now.