Music

The Daredevil Christopher Wright: The Nature of Things

The Nature of Things is a playful record from an impressive little Wisconsin band.


The Daredevil Christopher Wright

The Nature of Things

Label: Amble Down
US Release Date: 2012-06-26
UK Release Date: 2012-06-26
Amazon
iTunes

A short while back, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus hosted two shows within the same week. One was a sold-out dubstep show where a massive throng of people all looked on in wonder at something that was produced by a computer and not actual musicians. The other was a sparsely-attended show featuring a trio of classically-trained musicians called the Daredevil Christopher Wright. It's a slightly sad statement on people's investment in genuine musicianship and the fine arts in general. Those in attendance at the Daredevil Christopher Wright show were treated to a nearly unforgettable night of gorgeous harmonies, intricately arranged music and an intimate performance. That sense of intimacy and the beauty in their craft is translated directly to The Nature of Things.

Beginning with "I & Thou", The Nature of Things adeptly announces what it has to offer; clean and smartly-arranged guitars, intuitive vocal melody lines, and gorgeous atmosphere reminiscent of Grizzly Bear. "I & Thou" also introduces rhe Daredevil Christopher Wright's songwriting style quite well, which is an odd balance of the near-abstract and opaque. "I am looking for the thing in itself, not healing but health" goes a particularly memorable early line. The song floats along effortlessly, pulling the listener in as it progresses and it expands. "Divorce", despite its inventiveness and strong production, doesn't fare quite as well. It is worth noting, however, that "Divorce" is what Dent May's recent Do Things had the potential to sound like but neglected to in favor of a much more bland synth-heavy approach.

The Nature of Things really finds its footing with the third track, "Blood Brother", which was the song I was humming for weeks after their UWSP stop. Beginning with a perfectly harmonized vocal introduction the song mutates after a little over a minute into a frantic. frenetic, and jittery guitar-led piece backed by flute. It spirals into something that appears, at several times, to be on the verge of evolving into something avant garde. There's an elongated pause towards the end before the song kicks back in before coming to an unexpected and abrupt halt. It's almost daring in its execution and it's endlessly fascinating.

Much of The Nature of Things' middle section continues on in the same vein. It flirts with total accessibility but is ultimately too intricate in its arrangements and patterns to find a place on mainstream radio. They further reveal their similarities to Grizzly Bear, despite being much more folk-centric than that particular band. They'll inevitably gain comparisons to Bon Iver, hailing from the same relatively small WI town but that comparison doesn't hold too much water past the delicate vocals. There are sparse moments scattered throughout The Nature of Things, like "Church", but they're immediately offset by the band's more expansive numbers (in the case of "Church", it's the jaunty and brilliant "Andrew the Wanderer").

However, The Nature of Things' sparsest moment comes with the nearly-all vocal "Ames, IA", which is among the most delicately haunting tracks I've heard this year. There's an eerie ambient undercurrent that acts as a bed for the vocal harmonies which remain as striking as ever. It's a bleak break from the rest of The Nature of Things, boasting lyrics that end with "Doff my wedding ring, methamphetamine has touched my mind, found a place in my heart. Oh my stricken body and my despairing wife. You want me for a sunbeam, then take me." It's easily the record's most jarring moment and stands out as one of its most brilliant. Noted Eau Claire musician and performer Caroline Smith (of Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps) joins the band as an additional vocalist for "San Francisco Bay" and effectively adds a new dimension to the band's already formidable vocal palette.

"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" is another track that continuously just floats by, pleasant and impressive enough but never completely gripping. Whereas "The Birds of the Air and the Flowers of the Field" isn't necessarily one of The Nature of Things' most impressive moments but does stand out as one of its best. It also stands out as one of the quietest, with only one guitar and one vocal. The song's a bare-bones take on the bands' formula, and clearly demonstrates that, even when stripped raw, this band has an unbelievable sense of composition and dynamic. "The Birds of the Air and the Flowers of the Field" reminds me at points of Antony & the Johnson's I Am A Bird Now if it were re-envisioned as indie-folk. Suffice it to say, it approaches absolute brilliance in those moments.

The Nature of Things closes out with "The Animal of Choice, which essentially bridges everything the band accomplishes on the record and, as such, may act as one of the most representative tracks on The Nature of Things, despite not being one of its strongest moments. It does serve as an excellent closer and reminder of the band's talents and capabilities. Overall, The Nature of Things is an incredibly enjoyable listen that's very easy to take in, but it's not quite the classic record that the Daredevil Christopher Wright is clearly capable of making. Yet it's strong enough to lead me to believe that we won't have to wait too long for that record to happen.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.