The European version of The Kingsbury Manx’s 2005 EP, Afternoon Owls, included two remixes by producer (and Wilco keyboardist) Mikael Jorgensen, which made the songs seem adrift in time, harking back to Pink Floyd-era sounds even as the music plunged headlong into the future.
WAUMISS is The Manx’s Clarque Blomquist and Shallow Be Thy Name’s Caroline Blomquist. The duo was born of necessity after the Blomquists moved into a townhouse where they couldn’t make much noise. They began sampling from their archive of 8-track recordings to build new music. The resulting self-titled debut is similarly split between the archaic and the modern.
Its lo-fi, home-recorded aesthetic is redolent of vintage indie rock. Its song titles are Pavement-style non sequiturs. The loops woven through its live instrumentation are up to 10 years old. But in the modern column, WAUMISS forgoes a CD release in favor of the burgeoning vinyl-plus-MP3 model, which satisfies those who covet fancy artifacts (the LP cover features a suitably psychedelic painting by Frank Russo) and pragmatic iPodders alike. The analog recordings were digitally sampled, then mixed in an audio editing computer program called Nuendo. Also, expect an animated video by Ron Liberti and a 3-D video by Matt Hedt. 3-D glases, whose retro-futurism is a perfect analogy for the spirit of the album, will be available at CD Alley.
Most importantly, though, WAUMISS embraces the denaturing of traditional song that’s prevalent in the current remix and electronic climate. The pastoral guitar licks and disconnected verses of “Nightingale, or 460 above Westwood, Carrboro” flirt with pop structure, as does the straightforward indie rock ditty “k.(I).d.d., it’s up to you not to.” But the album mostly consists of sketches, set pieces, and experiments, moving at the chaotic speed of the digital age and often evoking the dreamy, beat-driven, genre-hybridizing style of the Beta Band: On “WURG,” what sounds like strong wind blowing over a hot mic segues into a weird Caribbean Krautrock jam. “SSSS Pulhemeny” seems improbably like the dub plate of a concrete music platter, while “RAH-MO-NYA” grafts what sounds like kitty cats singing through a pay phone onto the beginning of a bleary garage-psych tune. “R-Dog Bumps (Tummy Fix)” is a demented Saturday morning cartoon theme.
Because of the album’s rambunctious, scattershot nature, not every idea will connect with every listener; at the same time, its stylistic breadth means there’s something here for everyone. Can the remix disc be far behind? And can it be called WAUMIXX?
WAUMISS performs at the Come the Freak On! Festival at Nightlight Sept. 26-27. The WAUMISS LP is available for purchase via CD Alley and littleramonarecords.com, or for download at Amazon, eMusic, iTunes, and elsewhere.