The ‘cosmic sound’ might just be coming to a head with the release of Dire Wolves’ latest LP. Grow Towards The Light. Aligning themselves again with Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the record represents a bit of a lineup shift for the band. This marks their first without noted psych-folk stalwart Lau Nau on main vocals, but her shoes have been ably filled by regular member Georgia Carbone, who shifts this record towards the celestial – singing the album in her own invented language of bewitching moans and soaring incantations. Thrumming behind her, the band do their own part to elevate Grow Towards The Light to infinite proportions. As ever, bandleader and vibrational North Star Jefferey Alexander winds his guitars around limber and languorous nodes, stretching the passages beyond mere psychedelia and into a freeform headspace that sutures together folk, jazz, and prog on top of a lysergic backbone.
Further adding to the glorious din, Arjun Mendiratta’s (Village of Spaces) violin bobs and weaves between Carbone’s vocals, playing off them in acrobatic tangles throughout the album. Taralie Peterson (Spires In The The Sunset Rise) brings stabs of sax, charring passages into an amber ombré that melts the margins of the band’s vortex. The record is a tempest of sound – rhythms and grooves develop but just as often the players are fighting for space in the storm – wrestling with time and tempo and leaning hard into the whirlwind fray. At times the record is harrowing and haunting, biting into the brain with more than one set of teeth, but its not all flash and a friction.
The band lounges in verdant vibes as well, letting the oasis of “Water Bearing One” cool the wounds of the previous songs like a calming gel. “Discordant Angels,” while less outwardly comforting, lets up the gale force to saw a psych-folk spiritual out of the ruins. The song’s mournful shores provide a welcome shelter, but it winds up devastating in its own right – hanging heavier on the heart than the surrounding slashers. Standout, “Spacetime Rider” brings a dose of space rock, leaning into one of their most inviting grooves before the band winds up the whirlwind once more. Dire Wolves have an intimidatingly vast catalog, but if you’re a newcomer looking for a place to start, you’d do well to begin with Grow Towards The Light. It’s a not only one of the band’s strongest sets, it’s a top turner for 2019 as well.
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