Wauvenfold – 3Fold


Let me again stress my varied taste in music. I can listen to virtually anything, from folk to hardcore to rap to country, if it’s unique. If it sounds like every other band in that genre, I’m probably not going to like it. Hence my problem with electronic bands. You can do a million interesting things with synthesized beats and samples, but, in the end, it often comes down to sounding like sped-up beats repeated over and over again, usually for at least eight minutes.
The Nottingham, England-based duo of Noel Murphy and Tom Hill have recorded three 12″ EPs for the UK-based Wichita Records, and now they’re all collected in one handy and quite strikingly packaged CD for your aural pleasure. While clearly electronic experimentalists, these guys are most definitely different. The beats here are unique, often run through effects or distorters to sound like creaks, groans, deep booms, and scratches. These beats at times give you the impression that someone’s moving things around in your house instead of making music, and thus they’re a bit hard to take at first.
But by the third song on this album, you’ll be accustomed to the strange sounds this duo creates and realize that it’s quite definitely music. Because those beats are not random, and they clearly develop into a wholeheartedly unique and exciting rhythm. Add to that some keyboard grooves underneath, often light and airy, and you get an album that’s perfect background music while even better foreground music.
The opener, “Clip,” has this lovely, subtle keyboard line interspersed very lightly under more foreground scratching-sounded beats. The keyboard groove is more pronounced on the more up-tempo and playful “Podunk” and much deeper and richer on the less beat-heavy “Selenium Pulse.” The beats become a tad more traditional – although still interspersed with intriguing and perfectly placed bleeps and scrawls – on “Stab,” while “Residual” is almost ambient with its spacey keyboards and lovely melody underneath these omnipresent beat-sounds that are more than just beats. By contrast, the beats are subdued and play second fiddle to the rich, almost mournful keyboards on “Pixel Stitched.”
By the later tunes – I assume their in order as released, but the progression could be all in my head – the band does start to get a bit carried away with their beats, distorting the sounds for the sake of doing it and layering on other beats, sometimes three different layers of very different beats as on the somewhat difficult “Eye Bulb.” The beats almost distract from the lovely symphonics on the simpler “Obliq Itch,” but at times the song drifts down into dreamy keys alone, creating a haunting atmosphere. The sense of melody is lost in the more ambient “Foil Twitch,” which is followed by two unreleased tracks: the dirgeful and almost frightening “Vessel” and what appears to be a remix of “Clip” done for a John Peel session.
These days, Wauvenfold are plying their unique electronic music in a live setting more often, and I hear their music is quite groove-inducing. What’s presented here is much too laid-back and sweet-sounding to make you want to dance, but it’s easy to imagine them sped up and remixed. The band’s done some remixing of their own, and, even for one who tends to hate remixes, I imagine their take on almost any song would be an exciting one. This is some of the best electronic music I’ve ever heard, and I strongly encourage you taking a listen to Wauvenfold.