Desolation Wilderness - New Universe

Richard Wink 26/11/2009

Rating: 3/5

Music usually fits moods; in the case of Desolation Wilderness their optimistic shoegaze seems to fit weather. As I listen to New Universe on a bleak, cloudy November morning I am able to take myself far away into the hazy Californian sun. Understandably this band of daydreamers from Olympia, Washington wanted to make music that could take them to warmer climbs. For this is pure escapism.

Signed to Calvin Johnson's K Records Desolation Wilderness are now at the stage of their career where they can be identified as having a particular sound. Everything is hazy, noncommittal and strangely engrossing. Of course when you are creating soundscapes, whether it is through mass distortion ala My Bloody Valentine or through graceful instrumentation like Spiritualized, evidently you are pushing boundaries, no longer just making music, but putting forward an artistic statement.

This album is made up of ten what you would loosely call songs, for though there is a beginning and an end, each song is chain linked and tightly imbedded as part of the greater whole. The blurry opening of 'Venice Beach' seems foggy and distant, and from the offset we are taken somewhere, only due to the dense sonic layers we are unable to fully explore where we are. Midway through the album the listener could be excused for losing concentration, though 'San Francisco 2AM' becomes a lone bold beacon.

I was lucky to become emotionally involved in this music, mainly because it caught me off guard; however I fear for many New Universe will pass through them and exist strictly as background music. There is not enough claustrophobia in the atmosphere, and there is nothing ambitious enough to truly captivate. You could even call say the album relies too much on ambience for ambience sake.

At the end of the album 'No Tomorrow (Version)' reveals itself the only track that is truly expressive, the hint to what might be included in Desolation Wilderness' next release.