For a lutenist, Van Wissem has made a pretty sizeable dent into experimental and indie circles. Maybe its because he pals around with Jim Jarmusch and Zola Jesus. The former he’s collaborated with plenty in the past, even winning a Cannes film award for his work on the score to Only Lovers Left Alive. The latter appears here, fleshing out his sparse compositions with her own spectral haunt. But maybe its because Van Wissem’s work holds a lonesome power that draws collaborators like these in. His past works have painted with solemn, yet slightly intricate strokes, classical in feeling but not stuffy. He’s felt like the art history buff trying to open up his classmates to the wonders of 15th century without getting overly condescending about it.
On When Shall This Bright Day Begin he definitely clips a few notes from his work with Jarmusch. The pair’s collaborative albums draw in a lot of noise elements and drink from a well of experimentation. For this outing thoug, Van Wissem keeps the noise at bay but dips into some borrowed cinematic scope; Zola Jesus opening the album with a disembodied, ambient float over his plucks, vocal samples crackling against sepia toned stringwork and his own vocal arrangements pounding like mantras. Its when he lets the lute sing alone though that the album’s at its strongest. The recording is unencumbered, each note smacking into that pang of regret in your stomach like a steadied blow. Though to be fair, the second collaboration here with Zola Jesus is as hair raising as anything either have done, finding both parties reaching towards their inner goth hearts to make a track that’s infinitely absorbing. This album sounds like Van Wissem has finally found his stride and is so comfortable with his instrument that he makes his pangs our pangs and its easy to thank him for it.
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