The fact that Michigan's leading trip metal assault team, Wolf Eyes, ended up having their music used in an episode of The Office in 2011 was surprising enough to most observers, but that ultimately seemed pretty reasonable compared to the notion of the band being sponsored by leading roots music acolyte and vinyl champion Jack White. But anyone who feared that Wolf Eyes would have their creative vision knocked around after signing with White's Third Man Records label can breathe easy -- 2015's I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces is a typically uncompromised work from musicians who follow their own path and none other. It is true that Wolf Eyes are producing more song-oriented music that's less aggressively atonal than they have in the past, but I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces is no one's idea of a sellout; these six soundscapes are bereft of conventional melodic structures or rhythmic patterns any amateur could dance with, though the unrelenting pound of "Twister Nightfall" and the creepy-crawly pulse of "Asbestos Youth" are pieces you could certainly throb to at will. The opening track, "Catching the Rich Train," suggests free jazz is a growing part of their vocabulary as minimal electric piano and drifting reed solos provide the backdrop while clouds of electronic skronk hover over the horizon, and "Twister Nightfall" and "Enemy Ladder" take the dirty guitar figures of the Iommic dialect and put them to work in a truly bracing context. And "Cynthia Vortex aka Trip Memory Illness" is one of the more memorable psychedelic nightmares of recent memory, with essentially unintelligible voices echoing down the canyons as droning low-end figures, sputtering guitars and electronics, and a clear, mournful flute cohere into a mood piece that could be the "Maggot Brain" of the era of bath salts. The greatest constant of Wolf Eyes' various eras has been their purity -- whatever it is they're doing, it's a vivid depiction of their vision and no one else's, and the best stuff on I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces is as liberating as it is sinister and unnerving. Forget who might be paying the pressing plant -- Wolf Eyes are more than just another noise project, their world-view is intact, and I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces is strong meat for those willing to take a healthy bite.
|Label:||Third Man Records|