WYE OAK

SHRIEK + VARIATIONS (ORANGE SWIRL VINYL) (MERGE RECORDS)

WYE OAK - SHRIEK + VARIATIONS (ORANGE SWIRL VINYL) 163065
Format:
2 LP
Release:
05.04.2024
Label:
MERGE RECORDS
Kat.-Nr.:
163065
Barcode:
0673855083001
In 2014, Wye Oak released Shriek, their fourth album. It was a necessary departure for Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, who found themselves on uncertain ground after two years of constant touring for 2011's Civilian, living on opposite ends of the country and trying to revitalize their creative partnership.

Wasner set aside her guitar for a bass. Stack took on the band's upper register, playing syncopated, meditative keyboard parts that interacted with Wasner's voice, which was newly freed from its call-and-response relationship to the guitar_what had been, until then, a signature of Wye Oak's sound.

"This idea and the ensuing creative reworking of our band did what it was meant to do," Wasner writes in 2024.

"It ended a long, painful period of creative stagnancy and reconnected me with the joy of making music." During that period, Wasner and Stack were introduced to William Brittelle, the Brooklyn-based composer whose 2019 LP Spiritual America featured Wye Oak, the Metropolis Ensemble, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

His orchestral reimaginings of five songs from Shriek (Shriek: Variations, if you will) are the centerpiece of this package, which serves not only to mark the tenth anniversary of a great album, but to demonstrate the richness of Wye Oak's compositions.

Stack says of Shriek: Variations: "It's like looking at the songs in a funhouse mirror.

The songs on Shriek can be stripped down or embellished_this is maximal embellishment. William took the album and blew it to smithereens, looking at it in a weird, prismatic way." Through Brittelle, Wasner and Stack found themselves at the intersection of classical, experimental, and pop music.

Further collaborations, like the Brooklyn Youth Chorus- featuring No Horizon and Paul and Michi Wiancko's string arrangements on "My Signal" from The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, followed, as this connection fundamentally changed the way Wye Oak approached making records, incorporating an entirely new palette of sound into their work.

That shift began here. Shriek: Variations may feel like a startling take on the material, something like light bursting into a room through drawn curtains, but Brittelle's arrangements are largely original to his first collaborations with Wye Oak a decade ago, suggesting that his maximalist arrangements have lived comfortably within the framework of Shriek the whole time, waiting for the right moment to emerge.

It's a fitting reintroduction to the album, which upon its initial release was pigeonholed into the easy one-note talking point of being the "no-guitar" record.

But even so, as that happened, Shriek quietly started to become a staple among Wye Oak's core fans.

Here, with help from Brittelle's expansive compositions, the release draws attention back to the songwriting_how, regardless of the instrumentation, Wasner and Stack's uncanny musicwriting partnership at the core is what makes both Shriek and Wye Oak excellent.

Joined by the Metropolis Ensemble, Paul Wiancko, and Lizzie Burns, Wye Oak turn songs like "Logic of Color" inside out, reaching towards a kind of pastoral bombast, Brittelle's aesthetic with Wasner and Stack as an anchor.

In fact, "Logic of Color" in this iteration takes that "no-guitar" script and flips it, with Wasner playing the synthesizer ostinato on acoustic guitar at its center.

If Shriek is a record that charts the depths of solemnity and inner space, its Variations, roiling in a sea of winds, brass, and strings, recolors that space and complicates it, a gorgeous, unexpected response to the original's siren call.
 
  • Tracklisting
  • 1.1. BEFORE
  • 1.2. SHRIEK
  • 1.3. THE TOWER
  • 1.4. GLORY
  • 1.5. SICK TALK
  • 1.6. SCHOOLS OF EYES
  • 1.7. DESPICABLE ANIMAL
  • 1.8. PARADISE
  • 1.9. I KNOW THE LAW
  • 1.10. LOGIC OF COLOR
  • 2.1. BEFORE
  • 2.2. SHRIEK
  • 2.3. SICK TALK
  • 2.4. THE TOWER
  • 2.5. LOGIC OF COLOR