Windy & Carl - Allegiance and Conviction Music Album Reviews

Turning their atmospheric soft focus on everyday life, this is as close as the Detroit dream-pop duo has come to making a pop record; it’s an ideal entry point into their sprawling catalog.

Ambient and shoegaze musicians often like to cloak themselves in mystery, but Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren, who’ve been toiling at the seam between those genres for nearly three decades, are oracles of the ordinary. There’s no stylized anonymity, no attempt to persuade us that their drones are about the astronomical treatises of Johannes Kepler or whatever. They’re a married couple that runs a shop called Stormy Records in a suburb of Detroit, and while their music sounds enigmatic, it’s presented as a chronicle of domestic life at its most murky and poignant and, sometimes, quotidian: Blues for a UFO was framed by a text that might have been mistaken for a neighborhood-listserv rant. Refusing to put on esoteric airs, Windy & Carl reveal the complex, ambiguous timbre of even the plainest lives.

They aren’t a duo you look to for startling turns. Their dozens of releases since 1993 consist of minutely varied, grayscale watercolor studies of rain on windows, as their current press photo, so on the nose it has to be 15 percent joking, illustrates. But their new record, Allegiance and Conviction, stands out in two ways. The first is that the nine-minute “Moth to Flame” is the exception, not the rule; the other songs are almost half that length, each getting to the point and moving on more briskly than usual. The second is that the majority of them feature Weber’s vocals, which are usually more elusive. It’s as close as Windy & Carl have come to making a pop record (don’t worry, it’s not that close), and it’s an ideal entry point into a sprawling catalog.

Rather than relying on standard songwriting arrangements, Windy & Carl expertly draw out layer after layer from hulking yet delicate walls of quivering pitches and soft-edged shapes. Weber plays bass and sings; Hultgren uses delays, reverbs, and an EBow to multiply one electric guitar into an ambient orchestra, which he’s been doing since before it was a cliché. (He arguably helped invent that tactic, alongside contemporaries like Stars of the Lid.) The duo’s music has traces of 1980s dream pop and 1990s slowcore, particularly Low, another married-couple band. There’s more to the comparison than ink on a certificate. Marriage’s suffering and devotion breed a particular kind of intimacy. Windy & Carl often resemble an ambient version of Yo La Tengo, another group that centers on a long-wed duo and conveys a secret, profound sense of life beyond the music.

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The record starts with “The Stranger,” with Weber’s vocals unusually high and exposed in the mix. She affects an almost tuneless Nico style, and your response might change from “This is bad singing” to “This is interesting singing” to “I could listen to this singing forever” in the space of a few lines. The bass is like a growl coming out of a cave, and Weber’s voice is a trail to follow as Hultgren sends shimmering timbres and echoing tones vaulting above. “I’m in plain view/Out looking for you/In the underground/We’ve got a job to do,” Weber sings. She might be talking about her uncharacteristically unveiled performance, her band’s cult-favorite status, or both, but it makes for a sharper, more sinister song than we’ve heard from these peddlers of pure atmosphere in ages.

From there, Weber’s voice sinks down, an unintelligible haunting, or a sound among sounds. But “The Stranger” incites a pressure that lasts through the giant, gentle pieces to follow. On the ravishing “Recon,” Hultgren patiently draws out a gently crying lead from sliding basses and slowly swirling plucks. “Alone” varies the graceful register with some tension, a tinge of desperation creeping into Weber’s voice amid the minor-key smears and anxious guitars. “Crossing Over” is the only time we hear anything resembling riffs, but even the supremely static “Moth to Flame” flickers with interior sparks. Though it’s as comforting as the whistle of a teapot, the music captures the feeling of storms—the atmospheric charge and churning motion—without resorting to volume or force. Being ordinary seldom seemed so wonderfully strange.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Windy & Carl - Allegiance and Conviction Music Album Reviews Windy & Carl - Allegiance and Conviction Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, April 01, 2020 Rating: 5

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