While the origins of Claypipe’s latest, Sky Wells, lie far from the barren, snow-covered hills of the East Coast US, there’s something of a kindred spirit flowing through the record. The New Zealand band’s first in almost seven years, it’s a welcome return to the vortex of their particular isolation. The record finds the pair adrift and sequestered, their spare psych-folk ensconced in the soft white noise swirl around them and the frosted a dreamlike quality that creeps in between the dissonant thrum and television static. The ambience is wind bitten, tape hiss lapping at the hermit scrape of guitars. Powered by a brittle static in the air that crackles with a foreboding tension, Sky Wells drags the listener back through the reels to a time when Jewelled Antler, Last Visible Dog, and Soft Abuse served up jangled-nerve folk, bounced off basement walls and onto flaked four tracks.

The pair circle melodies and poke at them, prodding them to life, only to let them roll over on the coals and smolder. They tune them in like ghost hunters, attempting to find the shape of a song by stalking around it until the instruments hum to life. Occasionally a stronger signal blazes (“Ultimate Violence,” “Blue and Turned Black”) but Claypipe excels in stitching together the lining of the dream, the cobwebbed underside that’s might not make the most sense outright. Yet, the more distance put between the incidence and the impact and dark patterns begin to emerge. As those winds outside howl, Claypipe strum and strain back at them, an equal match for the natural squall.

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