Review: Wife Eyes – Primordia (Sour Orange, Jun 6)

Though I dropped from Krypton into the wonderful world of abstract music too late to truly appreciate its heyday, I miss the 3″ CD. Its capacity of just over twenty minutes ended up being a perfect length for many experimental sound creators and improvisers in the 90’s and early 2000s, with many artists (especially in the latter period) making use of the medium’s cheapness for self-released materials. I bring this up because it’s impossible not to think of 3″s when you see a single piece of music that runs about 20 minutes; it’s a particularly optimal duration if you pace things right, but unfortunately this niche art seems to have lost much of its prevalence. Delightful little slabs like Wife Eyes’ debut document crop up every now and again though, gifting listeners an easily digestible serving of sound still with plenty of room to get adventurous. Primordia is the first fruit of the duo collaboration between Matt Ackerman and Zachary Zena Giberson, and I think fruit is an apt metaphor because of how wonderfully colorful and candy-sweet this release often is. The track begins with some whimsical electronica, muscular throwback synths and sluggish collaging reminiscent of the “bunker jazz” of Women of the Pore, but Ackerman and Giberson have oodles of tricks still up their sleeves, which are revealed in a satisfying spectacle of quirky math-pop, spoken word, lounge grooves filtered through some sort of neon glycerin membrane, and anxious bell arpeggios that kind of remind me of that tense clock-tick music at the end of the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. Primordia is an entity of simultaneous conciseness and excess, the two spun together into a singular cocktail.

Also guys, I don’t care how similar the name is, do NOT let John Olson join your band.