I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces
Reviewed by: Max Miller
Wolf Eyes have released more albums since their 1996 formation than most people could feasibly be expected to listen to. The Detroit-based noise project has gone through several lineup changes, always revolving around central member Nate Young’s modus operandi: Create sonic terror at all costs, no matter what form that may take. Just look at I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces, their eleventy-bajillionth LP (I’m estimating). Whereas past Wolf Eyes compositions have taken forms as diverse as ambient noisescapes and pseudo-metal industrial ragers, IAAP:MIP’s opening track, “Catching The Rich Train,” layers klezmer-like squawking horns over two mournful electric piano chords while some light noise and processed vocal retches hover in the background.
Perhaps it has something to do with John Olson, the second-most recognizable member of Wolf Eyes, and his 2013 proclamation that noise music is “completely, 100 percent” over. Olson further emphasized that Wolf Eyes now make what he considers “trip metal,” a term as nonspecific-yet-endearing as the group’s vast body of work. Or maybe the sonic evolution can be attributed in part to the influence of Jim Baljo, the trio’s barbate guitarist since 2013. Whatever the impetus, Wolf Eyes have certainly challenged themselves to not repeat themselves on IAAP:MIP, even on a track-by-track basis.
“Twister Nightfall” features sparse, repetitive drums, a droning psychedelic stoner-metal riff and chanting vocals that recall drone-doom titans Earth if Dylan Carlson had stuck his fingers down his throat to induce vomiting before his vocal takes. The ominous, almost black-metal-tinged guitar melody of “T.O.D.D.” remains hidden by a veil of noise and more indecipherable vocals. “Asbestos Youth,” with its sinister synth pulse and shrieking noise stabs, could be the theme to a horror film. “Enemy Ladder,” the shortest cut, most resembles a conventional song with its driving drums and notable, albeit noisy, chorus.
Without fail, Wolf Eyes aim to create an atmosphere of unease, meaning their songs rarely feature any noticeable crescendos or major dynamic shifts. Progress, in some sense, could be seen as relief from the vat of nightcrawlers to which their music feels reasonably comparable. Closer “Cynthia Vortex AKA Trip Memory Illness,” a claustrophobic eight-minute mope-fest of monotonous vocals, bursts of distorted guitar and surprisingly calming flute flourishes, could serve as the record’s mission statement: We’re trapped here…and now you’re trapped here with us.