Wildernessking are a South African band with a memorable run-on name whose debut album (The Writing of Gods In the Sand) I gushed about passionately last February, comparing them to bands such as deafheaven, Agalloch, Wolves In the Throne Room, Krallice, Cormorant, and Enslaved. That’s some awfully fine company, but I thought the first Wildernessking album was awfully fine — a fusion of styles that produced an effective expression of power and emotion, a blending of light and dark, soft and hard, beauty and voraciousness.
Especially as the debut work of a young, unheralded band, the album left such a mark that I’ve been following Wildernessking’s progress ever since. This morning I saw that the band have now released a follow-on EP, …And the Night Swept Us Away, which is available for download on Bandcamp at a price of $5. Shoving aside other blog plans for today, I immediately paid my money and downloaded that three-track EP without even listening to the songs first, so great was my faith in this band’s talents.
I also discovered that the band simultaneously released their first music video, for the title track to the EP. My reactions to the music, plus the new video and a stream of the remaining songs, come after the jump.
Though divided into three tracks, the EP (at least as I hear it) is really one long song in three parts, a conclusion made more obvious by the rush of noise, like a gusting storm wind, that begins the first track and ends the last one. In between, the band use their music to create atmospheres and moods. It’s the kind of music (largely free of intelligible lyrics) that activates mental images, leaving the listener’s mind free reign to connect the sounds to visual memories. In my case, I saw flashes and panoramas of the natural world, and based on the band’s new music video, maybe that’s exactly what they intended.
The EP’s first song is an instrumental called”Adrift”. In its introduction, the shimmer of cymbals and an amplified acoustic guitar and bass begin to build the mood. Slow and meditative, the music changes, building toward a cascade of slightly distorted electric guitar notes that strike and peal, reverberating through your head. I imagined a panorama of mountains and forests, the slow roll of a tide on an uninhabited beach, and floating on calm waters staring up at the vault of the sky.
Once the title track began, all those images flew right out of my head in a rush. It begins blasting without a moment’s warning, a galvanizing contrast with the EP’s first movement. The drums hammer, rumble, and roll, and flashing guitars fall in cascades as scarring vocals shriek like a howling wind in the deep background. The drum rhythms change, and the guitars switch from tremolo’d scything to discrete chords and notes, but still writhing and slamming, like rushing rapids in a shadowed canyon. A clean guitar lead pierces the torrent near the end, like rays of sunshine around a river’s bend or hawks soaring in an updraft. The song is dramatic, harsh, triumphant, and layered with moving melodies.
And to finish off this short collection, we come to “Morning”. It falls somewhere in between the moods of the first two tracks. Largely instrumental save for the brief appearance of ghostly vocals, it relies on amplified acoustic guitar, a thrumming bass line, and creative drum accompaniments. Featuring lively guitar arpeggios, head-nodding rhythms, and progressive stylings, it’s less contemplative than “Adrift”, more caught up in the bustle of nature in a new day dawning.
In a nutshell, …And the Night Swept Us Away confirms the message that Wildernessking’s debut album delivered: This is a talented group of songwriters and performers, very much worth keeping your eyes on.
Here are links to Wildernessking’s web presence:
To buy the EP digitally, THIS is the Bandcamp link for that. The band have a limited number of physical copies available for sale. To request one, e-mail them at email@example.com.
And now here’s the new video for “…And the Night Swept Us Away”, with the song set to a pastiche of scenes from the natural environment outside Cape Town. After the video is the Bandcamp stream of the EP in its entirety.