Dusted Reviews

Wow & Flutter - Names

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Wow & Flutter

Album: Names

Label: Jealous Butcher

Review date: Jun. 24, 2003

Sustained and Dimmer

On Names, their fifth full-length album and fourth for Jealous Butcher Records, Portland, Oregon’s Wow & Flutter favors slow tempos and sleep-inducing patterns in lieu of the higher energy modes heard on earlier recordings. The group has in the past drawn comparisons to Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo for their penchant for distorted unpredictability among stirring melodies. We now find them in a different, somewhat overcast mode, like This Mortal Coil stripped of their heavy gothic overtones. On Names, one can almost immediately sense the premise behind the program: mono-rhythms and skeletal progressions using conventional instruments and vocals, which upon post-production become second and third tier in the hopes that the after treatment that will set the new project apart. A predictable formula, really, but one that allows an abundance of room for spirited invention, given that the group recognizes its limitations.

The record is only marginally attractive, as there is no detectable depth to the music, further hampered by pointless, homogenous vocals with indecipherable lyrics. “Amber” shamelessly draws on Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd not only in its moody chord changes, but in frontman Cord Amato’s fibrous inflections, clearly inspired by Roger Waters. As an opener, the tune is a fine attention-getter, with beautifully captured percussion and the only true instance of foreground vocals. “Careful,” a long, ballad-like number with handsome cello, boasts a transitional bridge that metamorphoses into a seeming amalgamation of early Big Country pop changes, with a few gorgeous, teasing seconds of processed E-bow. “Megan” has the group using heavy delay over clean guitar tones, creating an effect that reminds of Angelo Badalamenti’s compositional form – the slow motif simmers over a background of airy computer-generated atmospherics, like so many clusters of plankton on a bioluminescent sea at dusk. Not devoid of blemishes, “Megan” and “Amber” are deserving of mention for the little hints we get at a theme, unlike the brief “Vincent” – unremarkable, like an afterthought missed by the radar.

As a whole, the record is overwrought with a kind of melodic sluggishness, or an accidental tendency to blend in with the listener’s environment. When Wow & Flutter shines in this new guise, it’s due to the post-production accessorizing of these otherwise unexceptional songs, which, on their own, would make Names an unequivocal bore.

By Alan Jones

Read More

View all articles by Alan Jones

Find out more about Jealous Butcher

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.