Wolf Eyes – Black Wing Over the Sand

Wolf Eyes
Black Wing Over the Sand

It’s easy to lose track of all the Wolf Eyes releases in existence. Over the past few years the group has built a massive discography rivaling even Merzbow and The Fall. While naysayers might dismiss the group’s work as self-indulgent drivel, Wolf Eyes’ output has followed a distinctly progressive arc. It’s one that’s seen them develop from an embryonic state where walls of tumbling tape hiss collide with distorted vocals to studious purveyors of a new American noise underground. Between major releases such as last year’s Human Animal and 2004’s Burned Mind, both on SubPop, Wolf Eyes keeps vomiting up a sickening amount of material. It’s on these usually limited edition CD-Rs, LPs, and tapes that the arc of their journey becomes more pronounced and apparent.

While casual listeners may have felt a great leap between the shorter, relatively song-oriented material of Burned Mind and the elongated drone of Human Animal, those that scour the internet for those limited releases were already exposed to Hair Police member and Gods of Tundra label-head Mike Connelly’s presence and its effect on the group dynamic. Black Wing Over the Sand finds Wolf Eyes mining the same territory explored on Human Animal tracks like “Lake of Roaches,” “Rationed Rot,” and “A Million Years.”

The first side is more of the metallic, paint-peeling feedback we’ve come to know and love in the wake of CD-R releases like River of Haze or Human Slaughterhouse. There are, of course, the usual noisemaking contraptions providing a burbling backdrop of sour sludge. The group manages further explorations on this new, even somewhat patient sound while losing none of its abrasive skree in the process. Side two begins on a gentler note with some subtle metallic chirping that slowly snowballs into a wasteland of clang and decay. It’s hard to imagine there being much sweaty, alcohol fueled fist-pumping to the band in this mode. It’s time to stand with your ears right up to the speaker and delight in going deaf instead.