Deleted Waveform Gatherings: Pretty Escape

The ambition of Pretty Escape is admirable, it but also reveals a gap between what the band is and what they seem to want to be.

Deleted Waveform Gatherings

Pretty Escape

US Release: 2011-09-13
Label: Rainbow Quartz
UK Release: 2011-10-17
Artist Website
Label Website

Norwegian five-piece Deleted Waveform Gatherings has created a new album as unruly as the band's name. Pretty Escape is a 20-song, 73-minute pop record: an overall epic collection of music. Luckily, though, like the band's previous three albums, the album may be as long as their name, but the sound isn't nearly as difficult. The band, and frontman/songwriter Oyvind Holm, adroitly crafts sweet melodies, dripping with just enough haze to warm them up without tipping into blurry obscurity.

That hazy feel goes in different directions on their new record. Pretty Escape was originally conceived as a double-album but was instead turned into one massive whole. To listen to the record, though, you can't hear a double-album from one band emerging from all of this. Instead, it feels like two distinctly different albums from two different bands. Deleted Waveform Gatherings split their sound into two camps -- psych-pop and roots rock -- on this album, and it makes for a strangely paced record, even as it creates a compelling picture of a band trying to mesh two distant poles in its sound, with admittedly mixed results.

As a rootsy rock band, Deleted Waveform Gatherings can manage a dusty strength. "Farmer Abe" is a solid bit of jangling rock, with ringing chords and lean percussion speeding up their sound after the dreamy feel of predecessor "Time Passes Slowly". "Brand New Funky Hairdo" amps up the crunchy guitars a bit but still comes out with a similarly ragged feel. "Alone Down Here" has more twang than those, but it aims for the same kind of bar-band immediacy. These songs are all solid enough -- there's nothing here to put you off -- but they also feel like they don't quite fit. Or, rather, they feel like they fit okay, but like they're borrowed clothes. The fuzzy harmonica on "Alone Down Here" feels forced, as are the Skynyrd-esque riffs on "Tear Off the Chains". On Pretty Escape, this half of their sound feels decent but underdone. Holm and company are, at their best, a distinct and lively pop act, but these moments feel too anonymous, too by the numbers, and as the long record wears on, they start to blur together.

This is especially true because when they get hazy here, dipping into a sun-drenched pop closer to The Byrds or The Clientele -- it doesn't hurt that Holm's voice falls somewhere between Roger McGuinn and Alasdair MacLean -- they really come alive. Opener "Time Passes Slowly" is a bittersweet and affecting opener, drawing lines to the overcast pop of standouts like "Even Though She's Gone" and the dusty beauty of "Another One of Those". These songs give us room to feel out the textures this band is so good at, digging into Holm's plainspoken but emotive lines. He can be deeply lovelorn ("Even though she's gone, she still moves the air around here") or bitterly hurt ("Congratulations babe, you kept me on my feet") without feeling melodramatic. These are the moments where the band's distinct personality shines through and Pretty Escape grabs your attention.

There are a few moments where these two poles clash, particularly on the epic psych-rock of "Karma Phala" and the lean charge of "Porcelain Prisoner". For the most part, though, they stay separate and one clearly outshines the other. Their psych-pop side shows them stepping into the light, while their rootsy side has them hiding behind borrowed sounds they haven't quite made theirs yet. There's nothing here to suggest Deleted Waveform Gatherings aren't the sturdy pop band they've been for a while now; it's just that the ambition of Pretty Escape, admirable though it is, reveals a gap between what the band is and what they seem to want to be. We, the listeners, get stuck in the middle.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.