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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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Wolf Eyes
Human Animal
Sub Pop

Burned Mind, Wolf Eyes' Sub Pop (and "major" label) debut, pricked a lot of people's ears. The band was dubbed messiahs of noise, and while the audience for such stuff has been growing, there hasn't been some sort of mass noise takeover... and there is good reason for that. Where other artists in the genre place noise over noise, barrage over barrage, Wolf Eyes arrange; where others build, they compose. Their "songs" have movement, flow and drama. If noise music is an aesthetic opposite/equal to classical music, Wolf Eyes would have to be some violent, repulsive Romantics. Ugliness, as an aural quality, is just as vast, complicated and communicable as beauty. While that isn't to say that ugliness has been ignored by the avant-garde, it also has rarely been exploited in its fullest context.

As far as music goes, Wolf Eyes create some of the most diseased sound out there. It is, by some standards, barely music at all. Melody and harmony are not of any particular concern. Rhythm is a puppet-king, subservient to a congress of sound, which rules by force and under a very real threat of violence. This music is pure physicality.

Human Animal (a Sub Pop follow-up to Burned Mind, some 10-15 albums later), splits Wolf Eyes' past neatly in two — the "we are going to hurt you" Wolf Eyes and the "we are hurting you now" Wolf Eyes — while also moving that past forward. As Wolf Eyes have progressed, a certain cinematic quality has been lost to a will to dominate. Instead of threatening to tear your head apart, they tried to do it. They became enthralled with brutality, discontented with mere creepiness, with "darkness" as a shade. They made music that actually pained the listener: screw psychology, it's just a construct of your weak mind.

While this is impressive, and makes Burned Mind one of the most viscerally memorable albums one would care to recall, it is also a rather limited artistic goal. So, for Human Animal, Wolf Eyes have stepped back from pure violence, bringing in some of the old cinematic features while retaining pieces of the vicious nature that has served them well. "A Million Years" opens up the album with deadened bass hits, mutilated saxophone and clanging, echoing, scraping metals, setting a scene before some truly awful peak of screaming and layered nastiness, again to descend into "Lake of Roaches," which acts as some sort of aural afterbirth, all searing white noise, pained yelps and synth burbles. I can't help but think of being buried alive, having that lid nailed shut, fearfully screaming for help and slowly suffocating.

Not all of Human Animal is so specific ("Rationed Rot" is eight minutes of creeping dread, a setup for what's to come), and not all of it is so purely atmospheric. The title track is shattered beats, squalling sine waves and vocal vomit, with nice breakdowns and gong-hits cutting it up before the whole thing really starts cooking on "Rusted Mange," where the tempo doubles and starts to resemble an army taking practice at a rollercoaster full of howling children. Something like that anyway. "Leper War" is a six-minute respite from the beating for some atmospheric skin crawling. "The Driller" comes closest to combining the atmospheric and the brutal, with a signals-and-synths intro allowing a death-march beat to slowly coalesce before vocals and saxes and general metallic mayhem ensue. For Wolf Eyes, it's almost a pop song. A few lyrics escape the din, and the thing's got a sort-of verse/chorus construction going on.

The album ends with a two-minute cover of the No Fuckers' "Noise Not Music," which actually sounds like it could have been made by a guitar-bass-drums trio, or maybe several of them, but the sound has been overloaded to the point of actual collapse, with only the shouted title and some screaming not reduced to a rhythmic soup. As a piece of music, it's not much, but as a finish to the album, it is a peak, allowing Human Animal the rise-fall-rise compositional structure that makes for the most dramatic of entertainment.

by Jesse Steichen

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