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Oliver Wilde - A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Lightyears

A truly remarkable debut. 

The front cover of Oliver Wilde’s album is a somewhat bizarre collage of disparate images; a rough but beautifully assembled collection of half-thoughts that instantly transfix. It’s also provides one of those satisfying occasions where the artwork is a perfect translation of the music found within. Here it houses the mesmerising box of tricks that makes up Wilde’s debut release, ‘A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Lightyears’.

Mirroring the records hushed assuredness, the journey to its release has been a slow and steady one, with the the odd live show here and a high-profile video release there. But despite its longevity, every glimpse in to his world has delivered so much quality that there has never been a nagging doubt that he wouldn’t fulfil his initial promise and deliver something very special indeed. And, it turns out, that is exactly the case. ‘An Introduction’ is a hypnotic and swirling mass of intricate guitars, engaging breathy vocals and splashes of warm electronica. However, in much the same way that simply studying a list of ingredients is all-but redundant without the finished dish to taste, the finer details of the album can be laid out here but they’ll only ever tell half of the records astonishingly intriguing story.

The record opens in fine style, in fact the whole first-half flies past in a flurry of organic and textured loops and pounding melodic hooks. Splashes of white-noise bolster the full-bodied effect of ‘Curve (Good Grief)’, while ‘Perretts Brook”s sonic attack is a glorious clutter of languid vocals and thumping percussion.

‘Something Old’ reins things in a little with its laid-back groove and endearingly pretty instrumental backdrop. The acoustic refrain that drops in mid-way through, before giving way to an electronic-infused coda, is jaw-dropping both in its inspired simplicity and stunning delivery.

These quieter, more spacious, moments are less prevalent than expected. So, somewhat surprisingly, it’s the more dense and vibrant tracks that actually drive the record forward. ‘Marleahs Cadence’ is sunshine-filled garage rock of the most heart-warming nature, while ‘Walter Stevens Only Daughter’ is a heady mix of rolling bass lines, layers of guitar feedback and a whole load of pent-up energy.

The high-tempo, more care-free tracks are an aural delight and they drag out a much needed balance to the whole album. However, despite their rare showing, it’s the more refined moments where the true skill and magical craft of Oliver Wilde is best exposed. The beautifully formed ‘Pinch’ and the barely-there enchantment of ‘Rift’ create a stifling sense of atmosphere, slowly crawling along like a single droplet of sweat down the back of your neck on a detestably hot day.

It’s within these abrasive shifts of pace and temperament where this record really comes alive. Songs rise and fall like the most lucid of fever dreams until the lines are blurred to the point where it’s not us, the listener, that is in control. We’re watching these scenes play-out around us and we’re utterly lost in them.

For all its woozy melancholia, the record never recoils into solemnity. It is head aches rather than heartache that are explored and Wilde looks to his deepest consternations and twists, pulls and examines them until he reaches a point that may not be an understanding, but is, at the very least, an acceptance of what it means to stay afloat in a world that is so easily drowned in.

A truly remarkable debut.

Tags: Oliver Wilde, Reviews, Album Reviews

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