Get ready for energy: Wilderness plays with Parts & Labor - Oh My Rockness

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Get ready for energy: Wilderness plays with Parts & Labor

April 12, 2006
Get ready for an electric show. Baltimore's Wilderness has a sound that's been likened to Johnny Lydon fronting Explosions in the Sky. Frontman James Johnson's vocals provide the savagery, while the band's shimmering atmospherics provide the beauty. Wilderness patiently and cerebrally focus on exploring many levels of dynamics, using crashing cymbals and generous percussion play as pay off for the groundwork their spacey, psych-induced guitars established.

The band also seems fascinated with repetition, in both their droning notes and Johnson's lyrics. It's as if they want to see how long they can get away with staying the same before they break free into sublime sonic outbursts. Wilderness can be compared to a much gloomier version of the Talking Heads, a less metal Black Mountain or simply Lungfish.

Opening is New York's highly underrated Parts and Labor, who made bagpipes rock like they've never rocked before. On their amazing split with Tyondai Braxton a couple years ago (Rise, Rise, Rise), what immediately set the band apart was their amazing implementation of those favorite Scottish pipes into their own blend of math-rock and electric beeps. Surprisingly this unlikely marriage worked and I was immediately hooked. Their latest and greatest album, Stay Afraid, will propel these guys to even more disturbing heights.

But bagpipes are only the beginning of this trio's instrumental arsenal. Keyboardist/electrician Dan Friel, bass player BJ Warshaw and drummer Christopher Weingarten twist things up so much that to call them post-rock, post-punk or even experimental would just confuse people. Instead, think June of 44 meets Can meets Hella meets Kraftwerk, complete with irrepressible catchiness and foot-bashing beats. Perhaps most notable of all, Parts and Labor twist and distort just enough to be challenging, yet carry through with a melody that ultimately makes them entirely accessible. Look out for these dudes.

Wilderness and Parts & Labor (and Lichens) play Empty Bottle, Sunday, April 16th .


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