Birds of Passage: The Brave Man with a Sword
Cooper Cult

Widesky: Flux Boundaries
Cooper Cult

New Zealander Alicia Merz returns with two new releases on her Cooper Cult imprint, the first a Birds of Passage limited-edition “cassingle” and a the second a seven-inch vinyl outing from Seattle-based Seth Chrisman under the Widesky name (apparently the first in a three-part series of seven-inch releases from the label). Recorded by Merz “in the Waikato wetlands” in late 2012, her two-track single opens with “The Brave Man with a Sword” (taken from the forthcoming EP, 1890 Story, a four-way split cassette also featuring Aloonaluna, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, and Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier) and follows it with a vocal dirge inspired by David Lynch's Eraserhead.

Merz's evocatively titled opener cloaks an elegant piano lilt in dense folds of distortion and grime until the piano all but vanishes, its fragile voice reduced to a faint and ever-receding whisper—until her soft voice rises from the ashes like some spirit lamenting the dead. Those familiar with Lynch's cult classic will no doubt remember The Lady in the Radiator and her haunting “In Heaven,” and it is to this that Merz pays homage in a psych-folk meditation whose echo-drenched vocal appears to emanate out of some cramped and enclosed space, much like Lynch's original. Strange and curious indeed.

Though Chrisman's Widesky is pitched as a noise/drone project, Flux Boundaries is more restrained and controlled than such a description might imply. Yes, there are noises and drones aplenty in the A-side's “Disembodied,” but the tune swells in a patient and measured manner instead of bludgeoning the listener with an eviscerating attack. If anything, the piece is more molten rumination than anything else, while the shorter B-side “Sublimate” situates itself at an even deeper and thus quieter level of somnambulance. Being singles, neither release pushes past the ten-minute mark, but they're memorable nonetheless.

January 2013