Wayne B contributes his thick, plodding drum patterns to the bleak, jagged
post-rock musings of a New York group named Calla. Night of the Hunter sounds
much as one might expect with this history in mind: The opening piece flickers
into sight as a snowdrift kaleidoscope of drab grays, moldy greens and chalky
sky-blues. Wayne Magruder's hefty drums elbow their way through a crowd of digital
click rhythms, dirty mechanical thuds and gaseous microwave pulses, while the
sweet, soulful voice of Jana Plewa chants "No solutions/ Just life, just life." The
urban rhythm, heavyset bass lines and metallic clanking of percussion thrust
one into the cracked cold of cities lodged in winter, salted streets, clamorous
cars slicing through slush, people hibernating in the collar of their coats,
flecked by snow.
The chilly spell is broken by rustic banjo patterns, the buzz emitted by split
cables and spidery guitars. And here hides the charm of Magruder's album: It
constantly pulls you from the bedroom to the outdoors, from the city to the country,
the hi-fi to the lo-fi. Magruder seems an apt composer of different styles,
far too often the guitar churning and folksy simplicity lose out to the toxic
hums and delicate electric vibrations. These pastoral pieces seem undeveloped,
mere filler for the longer melodic codas, bloated bass lines, sawing strings
and downtempo rhythm pieces.
Granted, the songs encrusted with crumbs of distortion and subtle fluctuations of electronics work better at stretching themselves into more unfamiliar and expressive shapes, but the organic pieces, being as undeveloped as they are, pockmark everything with a disjointed, awkward feel. Treating songs as independent units is also misguided, however, as pieces clearly lean upon the extended codas of their predecessors. Grainy agitated textures, overspread and intersecting, create a dingy, forlorn atmosphere, but dissolve before the spell is fully completed; other sounds seep and trickle, coddled by reverberating guitar ruminations, but are interrupted by the staccato chatter of cheap electronics before a lulling repetition can be established. Night of the Hunter consists of some lovely elements garbled vocals, starry-eyed electronic twinkles and pastoral guitar melodies are but a few yet they are presented in a lackadaisical, homely form that detracts from the effect.