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Wreathes – The Reigns / Full Turn

Wreathes – The Reigns / Full Turn

Written by:  Sage
Artist:  Wreathes
Title:  The Reigns / Full Turn
Label:  Bathetic Records
Cat. #:  BATH036
Format:  7″

Genre:  Psych Folk / Ritual Folk / Experimental

A1) The Reigns
B1) Full Turn

Wreathes is a relatively new project from Nathaniel Ritter and Troy Schafer of Brave Mysteries’ Kinit Her.  This humble 7″ on Bathetic Records is their first and only release as of right now and features the full scale of what these two musicians are seeking to accomplish on a focused level.  Where Kinit Her can often be considered an experiment in improvisation and aural automatic writing, Wreathes is the side of their collective entity that is intent on making focused and painstakingly crafted music.  You’ll notice right away that, at least for this 7″, the art that Wreathes creates expands beyond mere music into a realm of incredibly personal spirituality.

The record opens up modestly with some gentle kantele and violin, coming together in a vintage drone that misleads the listener initially.  Within a few moments percussion and mid-tempo guitar that is plucked in triplets takes over the sound, giving the track an immediate flowing bombastic quality.  From here the song takes on several different emotional characteristics.  The music manages to maintain that militant, bombastic quality throughout, but at the same time it can come across as melancholic and remorseful.  It is cinematic at its heart, taking advantage of a wide scope of sound and production, creating a vivid and precise resonance while bordering on the murky periphery of introspective ideals.  To define this track would be to call it a soldier’s spiritual guidance.  It’s a march into battle with a heart flooded with the ideals that have brought a soldier to his destination.  It’s easy to use the word ‘epic’ in a review to describe a sound that encompasses many aspects, but the word truly describes what is found with “The Reigns”.

“Full Turn”, as the title implies, takes on a completely different atmosphere.  The track starts out with a slow, doomy aura of being overcome.  It isn’t necessarily a feeling of defeat, but rather a melancholic moment of epiphany — a desperate realization.  It’s a dark, gloomy track filled with minimal percussion and a barrage of background horns that create the primary atmosphere in the track.  On both tracks for this 7″, the most important variable is undoubtedly the vocal structure and the ensuing intensity.  They operate either in a harmony or in a dually sung melody throughout the entirety of both tracks and serve as the primary function to give the music a spiritual texture.  With “Full Turn”, the vocals as well as the tempo are what give the track is overwhelmed, melancholic nature.

It’s interesting that in the small clear lyric card included with the 7″, they speak of a ‘polestar’ which is seen as a principle that guides.  This word in itself more or less defines what Wreathes represents in sound.  It isn’t necessarily a ‘light’ that guides, but a principle — a hard-edged spiritual ideal that demands dedication and intuitive thought.  “The Reigns”, in particular, is every bit as inspiring on many levels as any modern composition released in the past few years.  It allows you to clench your fist as you open your heart, it encourages you, like the soldier implied earlier, to continue on.  As far as I can tell, there is nothing like it out there today, and the unique music combined with the sincere themes make this one of the best releases of 2011, and undoubtedly it will go down as one of the most underrated 7″ releases of the past half-decade, underrated only because of its limitation.

This won’t be the last release from Wreathes so don’t be upset if you missed out.  There is a full-length LP in the works for Adam Collins-Torruella’s own Pesanta Urfolk that will include a reworked version of “The Reigns”, so keep an eye out for that!

Rating:  5/5