Over a Windswept Plain
Sailors with Wax Wings
(Angel Oven Records)
US: 28 Sep 2010
UK: 6 Dec 2010
Listening to the debut album from Sailors with Wax Wings is a little like being trapped in a maelstrom. Close your eyes and you might picture images of tornadoes ripping across a desolate, barren landscape. There’s a real sense of foreboding doom and gloom throughout this album, and, to a degree, it’s poetic. As a project of sorts by Pyramids’ R. Loren and a bevy of guest stars too long to list here, it’s ultimately hard to categorize the band’s music. You could file it under metal, as riffs get played harshly on guitars in an ultra-fast, flashy way, but they don’t necessary made you want to bang your head. You could file it under shoegaze, as there’s an ethereal, drone-like undercurrent and dueling male/female vocals buried dreamily in the mix. However, it’s probably is a little too hard-edged to be considered as such. It might be post-rock, but, aside from the use of a well-placed cello here and there, rock instruments are used in conventional ways.
Ultimately, I would file this record under plodding—like a horse stuck in the mud. There’s very little variation from one track to the next, and the beat is so glacial at times, that it feels like the drums are having a hard time keeping up with the snail’s pace. Zack Kelly, in a middling Pitchfork review of the record, offered that “[t]he lack of deviation helps foster a cohesive, singular feel [to this album] ... . So it’s to be expected that this exercise could get a little tiring after a while.” I couldn’t agree more. Sailors with Wax Wings might have been better off as a short excursion into the netherworld, but this record clip-clops slowly along for an intolerable 53 minutes. Ultimately, though it may be unique in its sound and scope, this is excess played out to the hilt. About halfway through playing this, you might be wishing for a windstorm to come along and blow this band away to some God-forsaken corner of the Earth, simply out of the sheer boredom conjured by the proceedings.
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