Review: Dire Wolves – Paradisaical Minds

Although the primary sounds of this album stem from rock and jazz, the music doesn’t grate your ears or become tiresome; instead it invites you to buckle up on a journey through astral jazz, space and time.

These pieces do not adhere to the orthodox time restrictions of a three minute and thirty second long pop song and many tracks on the album exceed five and even ten minutes, evoking the feeling of drifting through something with deep focus. Certainly, this music won’t be radio-friendly, but it will certainly galvanise any listener to think about how music, space, time and relaxation all intersect with jazz and rock over the course of the album.

The main way that this relationship between space and music is achieved is through the use of improvisation. The heavy use of it allows the first piece of music to drift into the next and create a continuum of sound.

Improvisation’s exploration is clear to the listener’s ear and gives the whole album a more informal feel to it, rather than something formulaic. Ironically, there is still a certain level of musicianship maintained throughout, as it does require a level of skill and technique to be able to coax your musical discoveries and sounds into the blueprint of an album intended for release.

The informality of the music is also reinforced by the fact that this is not Dire Wolve’s debut release, and, without coming off as dismissive of the band’s work and commitment to their sound, there is a less forceful, aggressive tone as they are not set out to make a clear-cut statement for the first time. The direction of this album is a left-turn from convention and is more of a musing on sonic exploration that the band want you to enjoy, take in and think through.

It is vital to note also that for improvisation to work, any group of musicians is required to work together to create a sound before working off one another in order to explore ideas, before arriving at something musically-satisfying. This is no infinitesimal feat and requires the right balance of creative freedom and musical knowledge that Dire Wolves clearly has.

“Just Live Your Life Behind Your Eyes” opens with eerie, wailing voices mixed with a grungy but relaxed guitar and is surprisingly easy-listening as the album’s first track.

“We Are Stardust” combines animalistic noises with the sounds of a shaker and saxophone and the playfulness of this piece creates a sense of the outdoors and being with nature which ties in with name of the album as something heavenly although slightly eerie, particularly the recorder.

This track is just over six minutes long and takes a darker turn in its latter half but I think this encapsulates the band’s ethos wholeheartedly: to take something classic, like a guitar or saxophone, and be unafraid to blend it with something that it could potentially clash with. This isn’t music for your wedding or for a child’s birthday party and the lack of clear vocal melodies and the heavier focus on the instrumental means it could be paired up nicely with an art house cinematic music video to enhance the range of ‘colours’ on the album.

“In And Out of Den Garden He Goes”, like the tracks that precede it, also has an unfinished, unpolished and experimental quality to it but this is largely to do with the focus on sound as a way of evoking space and time and movement which is why, as in the case of “Just Live Your Life…”, the music changes rapidly and randomly and often with a jarring effect.  

Some tracks do seem quite long, notably the album’s titular and final track clocking in at seventeen minutes and fifteen seconds and combining all the effects of the four previous tracks but, when you listen to this album from start to finish, you get the impression that the music wants to be listened to as one whole piece of music rather than sub-categorised track numbers.

It is a sonic exhibition  and an interest in improvisation and all things astral that Dire Wolves is positing; Paradisaical isn’t just the album’s title, it is also a potential name for the jazz-influenced, Sci-fi genre of music the band want to explore.

Sam Meleady

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