Thing of the Day
WIRES UNDER TENSION
January 16th 2011
Album: WIRES UNDER TENSION - Light Science (Western Vinyl)
Another instrumental album, but a goody. Seven flowing, rewarding tracks, very easy to listen to. Each one sways and swings gracefully along a groove laden with rich textures, on what sounds like real-world organic instruments - orchestral instrumentation coaxed into a little bit of a dance sensibility, without shaking off a deeper love of the classical and proggy. Hmm, who else does that to acclaimed effect? Jaga Jazzist, of course, and Light Science has much in common whilst having an identity of its own. The Wires Under Tension sound is sleeker and softer than the aforemention Jazzists, and yes, there's an undercurrent of tension there - stops it getting too sweet. That dance/hip-hop need to groove along steadily has been subsumed, absorbed into looping, hinting-at-minimalist coils of melody. It's polished, but polished by hand, polished by craftsmen who want to bring out the colour and depth of the thing rather than put a shiny slick on it. Mahogany, not plastic.
Wires Under Tension is the work of violinist and composer Christopher Tignor,in cahoots with pretty damn fine drummer Theo Metz. Their working techniques entirely blur the boundaries between acoustic, classical instrumentation and your typical modern musician's box of tricks: playing an arpeggio on the violin, sampling it, manipulating it with (homegrown!) software then more playing... bring in your (also) classically-trained friends with brass and keyboard... This is what contemporary creativity is about these days. A generation of Renaissance men/women, at ease with tech and techical talent, striving to express rather than show off. The results here are strangely uplifting - a mixture of bleak and positive, with the uplifting winning out despite the darkness of the streets and the cold and the grubbyness of the surroundings. Opening number 'Electricity Turns Them On' has a bit of a feel/ texture in common with Amon Tobin's Six-Ton Mantis, for instance, yet refuses to succumb to the same pessimism.
The Wires Under Tension press release gives us a little backstory:
Tignor live/worked for over a dozen years in a great big warehouse in
Brooklyn, happily creating away in a nice big practice space with his
previous band Slow Six, until two years ago when he got gentrified-out
of the area (boy are we Organs sympathetic...). Forced to move to the
grittier, less fashionable South Bronx, the grimmer area is apparently
said to be leaving its mark on the music. Well, maybe... there is a
dark, rich warmth, a wariness rather than angst to tracks like 'Position and Hold' and to the windswept, rolling Mneomics In Motion
- but they're actually deeply euphoric. They almost do that thing
that a lot of (all right, every bleeding) post-rock bands do: that
emotional rush kick-in - but subtle, graceful. Natural. It's as
if no matter how hard Wires Under Tension try, how bleak their
surroundings, a core of optimism and hope refuses to be worn away. Like
they're walking down a street as dawn cracks between the buildings,
rather than at midnight. Or walking down a street and seeing only
rolling countryside, William Blake-style, particularly in the final
moody and stormy seven-and-a-half minute track.
Wires Under Tension's Light Science could well end up supplying a pleasing instrumental for many a BBC program trailer, but there's enough discreet mathy complexity and lushness of sound (and - gotta mention - exceptional, fluid drumming) to make the album a permanent fixture of many a personal music collection. Let's namedrop Stereolab, 65Daysofstatic, Michael Nyman, Battles/ Don Caballero, and remind ourselves that none of these stick out but are blended smooooth into the warm, tactile flow of the album.
Light Science is released on February 8th on Western Vinyl.
Look! A free download...Bronx Science, a remix of 'Wood, Metal, Bone' from Light Science: bronx science free download