Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Thursday, November 11, 2010
High Wolf casts his spell again with “Shangri L.A.” With each release he enchants us with his shamanic witchcraft, and this new one is especially charming. The best thing about this disc is the new-age fusion of tribal primitivism and eastern enlightenment. It is the perfect alchemical blend of musical philosophies from various continents. I feel like the two elements of his usual concoctions are a little stronger in dose than usual though. It seems it’s a little rawer than before and the repetition of the psychedelic sensations is as mesmerizing as ever. A totally hypnotic elixir for those ill from busy lives and angst. Pure medicinal escapism bottled and prescribed with each dose of these entrancing mysteries.
The CD itself is a collection of six tracks, two of which are carryovers from HW’s earlier “Gabon” tape release. This native of the Amazon houses his exotic vibes in an oversized gatefold edition of 500. Over 43 minutes of spacey, far-out tropical ritual. The cool art seems inspired by healing tropical foliage. Join the tribe or get out of the jungle.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Now, If you've been observant, little lads and ladies, you will have noticed we've had this available on Cd-r courtesy of Winged Sun already. Well, now it gets a full LP release which is more than likely due to the success of the excellent 'Ascension' and 'Shangri LA' LP's. I like High Wolf. In this age of power jamming without friends and space improv in space world, we find ourselves living in High Wolf make a lot of sense. Plus, this French dude is like, really good at, you know...jammin' man. He's got the trance-like spiritual fantasy groove down to a tee. There's plenty of rudimentary percussion, spaced-out keyboards, wahtar (that's wah wah guitar), delayed vocal-ism and ritualistic vibes to keep you mushi-heads and marioBONGS going for many years to come. Imagine a hyperactive version of Sun Araw with the same musical agenda but showing slightly less restraint and you wouldn't be far of a decent description of what's going on here. Like Sun Araw and the like, he has almost certainly spent a lot of time listening to Vibracathedral Orchestra and watching Predator.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Had I not known that High Wolf is the alias of a mysterious French musician before listening to his new record Ascension, I would have called “bullshit.” This may be some of the least French-sounding music ever laid to tape. Those socially networked to High Wolf are told that he hails from the Amazon basin, but that’s a ruse too. Nothing provided here suggests any gestation from deep within the hot, steaming jungles, where every animal, insect, plant, and person wants to kill you and repurpose your remains within the ecosystem. It’s not muggy or moist, nor does it smell of quick decomposition. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like the “French” Mr. High Wolf – or is that Mr. Space Coyote? – spent a lot of time in the American southwestern desert regions, among the Native people there, partaking in ritual events and spiritual illumination. As such, you’re more likely to find sand in your moccasins than stagnant water or, um, a baguette. Seriously, that last one happened to me once.
Let’s get straight on it – Ascension smacks of the American Southwest because of its rhythmic tribalism, and while this characteristic is indicative of native cultures throughout the world, the signature tablas and other percussion instruments, combined with guitar, analog synthesizer, and various loops and effects, call to mind swirling space jams that truly make sense under the huge clear night sky surrounded by cacti and red rock formations. There’s no jungle canopy to be found on this record. There’s just space, lots of it, and a feeling of joyous reverence beneath the night sky, the only witness to the ceremony and celebration of earth and nature. Oh, and that fistful of peyote should start kicking in any time. That should help.
The layers of rhythm that begin “The Meeting of the Three Seas” do little to dispel my hunch on the influence of Native American culture, as you really can’t help but strip to the waist, apply the proper paint to your face and chest, and kick up a cloud of dust around the bonfire roaring in the open wilderness. As with the rest of Ascension, “The Meeting” is a study of steady build, as layers of instruments are added to the background and a rudimentary guitar scale emerges from the clatter, and without much variation it collapses in a heap before it hits the nine-minute mark. The textural changes in the shorter “Diego” are more pronounced, as more tribal rhythms give way to the shimmering delayed guitar, the ethereal wisps suggesting the intervention of spirit animals, or some other guide. I think my spirit animal would be something cool, like a snake or a bobcat. Actually it would probably be something lame – like a ladybug. Yeah, my spirit animal’s probably a ladybug.
“Cloud Head” signals the passing of its subject overhead – altocumulus, perhaps, in advance of a cold front – until it stops midsong and shifts compeletely into a dour black thundercloud. But it doesn’t matter – that great big blue sky dotted here and there is just as vast and beautiful as the lightning shooting from dark mass to dark mass, in the distance, slowly moving toward you. And sure – something like the restrained and meditative “Solar System Is My God” is perfect for a planetarium laser light show, but artists like High Wolf are rendering that descriptor cliché. You should rather actually go out to the desert, and actually stand illuminated by the visible arms of the Milky Way. (You know, because they’re actually visible without all the light pollution blocking them from view.) I’m done with planetariums. You’ll actually see visions in the clear night sky in the middle of the desert during a mescaline haze, and it will change you – get out there and be reborn. That’s where “Fire in My Bones” comes in, its Panda Bear-ish vocal samples and instrumental gauze glacially shift in texture, as the heat from the great spirit’s transformation emanates from your chest, spreading through your limbs and flowing outward in a pulsing red glow. You’ve been enlightened, my friend. You’ve ascended.
High Wolf trafficks in a mystic psychedlia that currently has the blog-n-roll set’s seal of approval, along the lines of Sun Araw or Raccoo-Oo-Oon or whatever else happens to strike the fancy of the Not Not Fun or limited-edition-cassette/CDR/LP-release crowd. And yeah, it’s pretty cool. So don’t let anyone tell you these self-described “pyramidal meditations,” a descriptor nicely mirroring the upward focus of the album, are anything other than well-executed psychedelic excursions – the hype machine is ready with the next post-fi, chillcore, tapedeck-tribal, or glo-wave buzzword. But we’re not that lazy here at Critical Masses, right? No – we’re telling you what to like. We’re the hitmakers.
RIYL: Sun Araw, Forest Swords, Panda Bear
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
March 19th, SXSW Dublab showcase, Austin
March 18th, The hideout, SXSW Not Not Fun showcase, Austin
March 18th, International Tapes showcase, Austin
March 17th, Brave New Books / SXSW NNA Tapes Showcase, Austin
March 12th, Landslide, Los Angeles, feat Deep Magic & Sadistic Candle
March 8th, Public Fiction, Los Angeles, featuring Sun Araw, Deep Magic, Sadistic Candle et M.Geddes Gendras
February 22nd, Hemlock, San Francisco, feat Jefre Cantu, Psychic Handbook, Sean Johanessen
February 21st, Life Changing Ministry, Oakland, feat Psychic Handbook & Sean Johanessen
February 19th, Silver Tiger, Berkeley, feat Psychic Handbook, Sean Johanessen & Rob Magill
February 16th, Villanova, Davis, feat Sean Johanessen & Davy Bui
February 13th, Loft, Arcata, feat Starving Weirdos
Feburary 10th, Substation, Portland, feat Plankton Wat & Super Minerals
February 6th, 46th ave, Portland, feat Plankton Wat & Super Minerals
February 4th, Cairo, Seattle, feat Panabrite
January 23rd, Booze Cooperativa, Athens, feat Lunar Miasmah, Bruised Lee
20/04/2010 Atelier Tibet, Ghent, High Wolf featuring Hellvete
17/04/2010 Maakhaven, Den Haag, High Wolf featuring City Hands
05/04/09 Le Pixi, Paris, Festival Black Mass Rising, featuring Gnod
04/04/2010 L'Epicentre, Cherbourg, High Wolf featuring Gnod & Chicayoloh
03/04/2010 La Bascule, Rennes, High Wolf featuring Chicayoloh
22/06/2009 Ocii, Amsterdam, High Wolf featuring Uton & Ben Reynolds. Opening for Pocahaunted & Sun Araw
20/06/2009 The Luminaire, London, High Wolf featuring Uton. Opening for Pocahaunted & Sun Araw.