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Wilderness 

(k)no(w)here (Jagjaguwar)

Wednesday, Dec 10 2008
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You don't so much listen to a Wilderness album as become completely absorbed by it. The band's densely textured and deceptively simple format of guitar, bass, and drums takes on a throbbing, hypnotic quality that's hard to classify with terms like "postpunk," though it veers in that direction.

The Baltimore-based group's fascinating new album arrives two years after a minor misstep with an unimaginative sophomore release that didn't live up to the potential of the group's debut album. (k)no(w)here redeems that, unfolding more as a 40-minute patchwork of tonal concepts than as a proper album. Individual songs are present, but they fade into one other as if the record were written in a single sweeping stroke. James Johnson's gloomily commanding howl booms out over the proceedings, a little bit John Lydon and a little bit David Byrne, but wholly his own. Colin McCann, never content to bash out chords on his reverb-infused guitar, spirals intricate licks over one of indie rock's most reliable rhythm sections. From the opening ambience of "High Nero" to the eight-minute rock-trance of "Chinese Whisperers," Wilderness has again proven itself to be one of the most engrossing bands to emerge from our verdant musical landscape.

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Jonah Flicker

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