Wilderness: (k)no(w)here

Wilderness guitarist Colin McCann's spindly, twangy work owes a significant debt to Gang of Four's Andy Gill, and between that and vocalist Jim Johnson's atonal declamations, the band frequently draws comparisons to post-punk bands like the Fall and Public Image Ltd. It's possible, however, to hear an entirely different set of connections on (k)no(w)here. McCann's guitar also has a chiming, martial quality; drawn out into long, slow, harmonically static songs, coated in reverb and backed by William Goode's stately drumming on a muted kit, it recalls the emo-­influenced indie-rock practiced in the '90s by minimalist bands like Boilermaker and, early in their career, Cursive. Johnson, for his part, could be a beefed-up version of U.S. Maple's Al Johnson (no relation, presumably) or Make Believe-era Tim Kinsella. Like the latter, Johnson has the air of a feral prophet. It's very easy to hear his strange bellowing as that of a man driven to speaking in tongues by the drama that his band's chant-like rock generates. On (k)no(w)here's last three songs, a periodic extended climax more than 20 minutes long that dominates the record, Wilderness plays two kinds of music at once: a cold meditation on harmony and dynamics, and a searing, animalistic cry of primeval emotion.

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