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.
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
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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