- Wren Kitz, Lovebird
(Self-released, cassette, digital)
If Wren Kitz had his way, his latest album, Lovebird, wouldn't be uploaded to the internet. Known for reel-to-reel wizardry, the experimental singer-songwriter recorded the new album to quarter-inch tape in his Burlington bedroom. He fantasized about an analog-only release, wanting to preserve the ineffable quality ferric oxide brings to the listening experience. Then he realized it was 2018 and came to his senses. Digital is essential, however hollow it may be.
That anecdote, which the artist detailed in a message to Seven Days, is Kitz in a nutshell. The aural auteur is known for working with outmoded gear, field recordings, feedback and other samples. He stretches, bends and otherwise manipulates these components amid tumultuous soundscapes, washing everything with progressive guitar work and hushed singing.
Kitz's work is rich and vivid, whether it's a highly conceptualized and orchestrated work such as his last full-length, Dancing on Soda Lake, or a freewheeling, stream-of-consciousness, splatter-painted beast like his new 17-track collection. On Lovebird, the tracks bleed into one another, rising and falling through layers of turbulent noise, psychedelic rabble, post-punk freak-outs, precious murmurs and jolts of manic energy when you least expect them. It begs to be listened to all the way through with no interruption. You'll relish its unpredictability.
Kitz's attention to form and structure is one of his greatest strengths. For instance, he plays with contrast frequently, hopping from full-tilt garage-rock on "Little Victories" to the tranquil strains of airy lullaby "Forgot It When I Said It." Similarly, the vaporous "Dancing With the Wind" eclipses the preceding jagged rumbles of 30-second tease "Cowbird."
Continuing with confrontational pairings, "Realistic Bongo" is an overdriven drone, a collision of dramatic, gravelly tones intercut with stark percussive bursts. "Sandbar Inn" follows, a fuzzy dreamscape of tenderly plucked guitar and churning, metallic noise. And the bleary-eyed, washed-out indie rock of "Lie Down" presses against the saw-toothed grit and feedback fury of "Neck."
"Metters Cottage," a snack-size nugget, sounds like the intro to a lost Beatles or Donovan track with its angelic plucked guitars. Though it's over in a flash, the interstitial piece proves to be as ear-catching as his more straightforward songs. (Straightforward is a relative term here.)
Lovebird showcases all of what the artist does well without elevating any one facet above another. It's a melting pot of all things Kitz. He mystifies with warped sonic effects and hypnotizes with dulcet instrumentation. And that's true whether you're listening to one of his cassettes or an MP3.
Lovebird will be available on Friday, October 5, at wrenkitz.bandcamp.com.