Wreckmeister Harmonies mix drone, neo-classical, outrock and extreme metal. They are led by JR Robinson. Essentially a duo, Esther Robinson makes up the other half. Their new album Light Falls features a bunch of interesting guests including Thierry Amar, Sophie Trudeau and Gregory Herzog from Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Ryley Walker and Cooper Crain from Bitchin’ Bajas. Light Falls is their fourth album in as many years. AND it’s on Thrill Jockey.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 14 September 2016
J. R. Robinson. Mister Harmonies. It’s been a while. Take off your shoes; reveal your hobbit feet. Long have you been travelling. The primary consultant for all things doom, drone and gravel, Robinson has long been impressing on us the many ways you can twist metal into new shapes, travelling down a more baroque, even folkloric route. ‘Then It All Came Down’ was a masterstroke, while ‘Night of your Ascension’ went maximalist with contributions from the Neubaten crew and the Cave collective. Consider ‘Light Falls’, with further guest stars, another attempt at perfecting the folk metal allegory Robinson has been workshopping for years.
Who’s on it, I hear you eagerly ask, maybe, probably not? Godspeed dudes, of course -- three of them, in fact, with Thierry Amar, Sophie Trudeau and Gregory Herzog adding terse string spines and slow-building inflections to poised acoustic ruminations such the opener. Ryley Walker, too, because why not, eh, and a dude from improv trope Bitchin’ Bajas. Together they make this feel like a proper medley of rock downtime and upswing -- scorched-earth guitars crunch with distortion, watery acoustic guitars coalesce, strings and pianos placate… the feel is of an atmosphere largely more reflective and poised than usual, for a man whose music tends to pummel.
It feels, unlike the records before it, like a jammer of a record, like some friends making post-rock on the wind down -- the record’s opening trilogy has the Earth’s kind of sound in mind, one that promises a climax but resolves it internally, with flourishes a la A Silver Mt Zion fleshing out the barren landscape. It stands as a testament to Robinson’s cinematic approach to heavy music, his understanding of restraint, that he brings the record to crest on its centrepiece with a reference to Muddy Waters with “Where Have You Been My Lovely Son?”, a track of string flares and a heartbroken spoken word missive from Robinson to his estranged son -- he doesn’t break into climax on this song, but lets the plainspoken instrumental drone speak for itself.
Of course, if you want the shred, he will deliver it: “Some Were Saved Some Were Drowned” is proof of a metalhead staved. Ain't no Harmonies record without the hurt.
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- Light Falls by Wrekmeister Harmonies
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