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Single Frame
Wetheads Come Running
Volcom Entertainment
www.singleframeashtray.com


It is only appropriate that the cover art for Single Frame's 2002 debut LP, (Now reissued for 2004) Wetheads Come Running, is covered with the affectations of architecture, for they are musical architects. This album is not a microcosmic world packed with the inspirations and ideologies of a vibrant band of twenty-somethings out to change the world with their music. WCH is a glass, steel and concrete monstrosity; a whole city built and run by machines. It is huge, and there is virtually nothing in it. The music of this album is a hollow and distant echo of the age of man whose time has come and gone; his only record: the replayed television shows, the infinite repetition of film loops whose audiences have since passed on, and psychic impressions in the ethereal media, the haunting ghosts of a dead civilization.

But, this is not to suggest that Wetheads Come Running is devoid of emotion. As the lone listener, bear witness to the marvelously automated nexus of our existence, and hear the plaintive cries of ennui ("comm. jet" ("creepykid remix)") and quiet rage ("i've been to a party at this house") issued by the mechanical servants whose raison d'etre has entered into twilight as they lament: "-our talents now rust..."

So how do they pull this off? The description above is simply the imagery that forms in my mind when I listen to this album. A little bit of "On The Beach, with "The Quiet Earth", "Alphaville" and "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" thrown in for good measure. The Punk-inspired foundation to some of this album gives it a consistent liveliness that crops up where needed ("mod style'68"), and the synth and moog-driven, New Wave sound gives it a synthetic and slightly creepy texture ("post daydream forecast endeavor", "i've been to a party at this house", "skintone") that reminds me of Herk Harvey's "Carnival of Souls", and the Portishead-style moodiness ("eavesdropper goes solo") enshrouds the album in a melancholy miasma. Dissonant guitars impart an uneasy, unresolved tension ("$7 haircut", "the slip") that suggest an impending change or transformation. "Taxidermy heads" is a quietus of sorts, a release from the old debt, an epiphanic musing on the futility and agony of solitude and solitary existence. The transformation of this world occurs in the climactic highpoint of WCH: "new car smell" the robots have shucked off the trappings of old, and have discovered that their own persistence is reason enough for existing. Like anything else, they have the ingrained will to survive.

If I were to inquire with the band, or to pore over the lyrics (had they been included), I would likely discover that my analysis of this overlying theme is not what was intended. But, their music is as close to the musical equivalent of expressionistic modern art as I have heard in quite a long time, and such art is typically meant to be interpreted, not understood, grokked, kenned, or anything else that smacks of truth or ultimate comprehension. I like the world this music evokes in my head and so, I adhere to it. Several of the tracks are seconds-long interludes of ambient noise, or airy segues between the full tracks. They are wholly necessary as they flesh out the expansive range of this album and cement its status as a monumental achievement.

-JD

Track Listing:

1. floral design in a straight line
2. $7 haircut
3. rare paintings
4. post daydream forecast endeavor
5. in the ground
6. mod style '68
7. miracle ear
8. the slip
9. i've been to a party at this house
10. comm. jet (creepykid remix)
11. operadora 2+1
12. eavesdropper goes solo
13. skintone
14. 3 bloodless shadows
15. skintone pt II
16. spacedust and handcuffs
17. taxidermy heads
18. new car smell
19. tired of waking up
20. let's techno for Christmas


 

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Mike Doughty



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