We've already had Dire Straits but now we have Dire Wolves a collective of '60s influenced dreamers who take influences from Pink Floyd and the Incredible String Band and apply them to their particular brand of freakery. With just four very long tracks, Excursions to Cloudland promises to be the sort of trip you might never return from.
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Lovely. We’ve exhausted our rotating joke about how audacious it is to put Dire in your band name in the wake of Mark Knopfler, but all is forgiven the moment I put on this breezy improv country krautrock, its gorgeous sounds and leisurely rhythms taking me out of a world where I grumble and into one where I merely exist. I love to merely exist.
On this record of floaty hypnosis, wiry violin, coalescing vocal harmonies and jazz guitar, Dire Wolves best remind me of early Do Make Say Think, minus the gameplan: the band play together much as DMST did on ‘Goodbye Enemy’, patiently unravelling minute improvised change-ups over straightforward and softly ominous rhythmic patterns. Only towards the later half of “Fogged Out (Two)” do the band become aware of some threat, the muffled drums now met with shaking violin and a glitch in the slurring vocal drone that’s been carrying through the record. The guitars start to solo wildly: suddenly, we are at fever pitch psychedelia.
While this band can paint a perfect picture of dread -- as they do on “Celebration Day”, which sounds like krautrock about Watership Down -- I’m more about the first half of this journey, where everything sounds nice and airy, the clouds yet to drop down their more evil weather. Overall, though, this a surprisingly engrossing space rock journey -- one that invites the nature from down below to play its part.
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