The debut from Winged Wheel is sliding under far too many radars these days. The group brings together four geographically disparate members — Cory Plump (Spray Paint, Expensive Shit), Whitney Johnson (Matchess, Damiana), Fred Thomas (Tyvek, Idle Ray), and Matthew Rolin (Powers/Rolin Duo, solo) who all crossed paths at the great Tubby’s, which Cory owns here in Upstate, NY. Rhythmic, dense, propulsive, and penetrating, the album turns the dials through the greased neon glow of Flying Saucer Attack, the rain-streaked ache of Grouper, and the cloistered technicality of Cul De Sac. Johnson’s vocals are buried beneath the band’s fog of guitars and synths, occasionally ricocheting off of the staccato rap of percussion. The album is dense, but delightfully so. It allows for the listener to get lost, hiding and hovering between the folds of its aural labyrinth.
The record is disorienting with nods to the barrenness of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma or Johnson’s work as Matchess. The windswept desperation of “Lasso Motel” gnaws at the speaker wires, searching for solace. As the rhythms comes skittering into the field, the band moves away from the howl of loneliness to build up a barrier against the gale. “Drinking With Flies” and “Grey On Grey” burble into the kind of motorik vortex that pulled listeners close to Stereolab, though here the colors are muted far beyond their fluorescent array. The hypnotism that settles in around the repetition is consuming, but comforting. The pulse is a rope to reach out to, a buoy in rough seas. No Island whips at the mind, eroding small pieces of soul and self, but what’s left is honed and hungry for the coming day.