Monday, November 1, 2010

Wildebeest "Motion and Language" (self released/2005)

Let me start off this entry by publicly apologizing (even many years after the fact- just over 6 to be exact) for originally lumping Matthew Winn's pre-Wildebeest release in with the unfortunate (and certainly not forgotten by this guy) folk punk movement of the early 2000s when I reviewed it in a issue of Under the Volcano. I was certainly wrong in making that comparison, and the debut from Wildebeest Motion and Language is what squashed any ill conceived notions of the type of music the talented Winn was creating. I can attempt at trying to conjure up my own words to describe what Motion and Language is about and while I will first I'd like to offer a snapshot of Winn's own words as the following text was pasted on the sleeve when you opened up the cd case:

"This is the story of nine months living in Spain, and of the frustration and isolation that comes with the building of relationships with people and places you recognize you'll never be able to fully embrace. This is the story of entrances, transition, languages and exits."

I believe this words beautifully set the stage for a work that is not only very personal in nature but a work that is realized. As a music fan and musician myself that is the thing that really blew me away about Motion and Language, because punk is generally about writing a batch of songs and sticking them together. There is never a sense that there is direct correlation between the words and sounds, how they mesh together is just a matter of throwing it to the wind and seeing where it crashes-which don't get me wrong this is why punk is great but to see someone who had been in local punks bands come forth with a work of such purpose and cohesion was just something that impressed me. Wildebeest's Motion and Language has only gotten better to my ears over the years as the depth of the work- influence, ideas and musicianship is vast. There is also an element of quirky, youthful exuberance present that makes even a realized work not take itself too seriously. At first listen to almost shaky, raspy vocals can be off putting (and maybe that is why I viewed the earlier work as folk punk) but that is soon washed away as their is a undeniable, endearing passion about the delivery. You don't come across works as strong as Motion and Language all that often and to be blunt-this album is an absolute masterpiece in regards to Long Island music of that time period (early to mid 2000s).

I would classify Wildebeest as cross between folk and indie rock but with definitely a DIY punk ethos about it. There are even lyrical references to Jawbreaker and Capn' Jazz. The bulk of Wildebeest's songs are based on acoustic guitar and voice but a strong cast of accompaniment via bass, keyboard, percussion/drums, accordion and clarinet is also present. The lyrics are very well anchored into the them of the album and in some cases, specifically on tunes like "Harps and Trumpets", "Living and Dying" and "Phil Writes Songs Like Kevin Seconds" excels at offering vibrant imagery yet allows the words to resonate on a individual level. I got to know Winn personally for period of time and I was able to express my admiration for his work (as well as apologize for past misconceptions) and just like many things-one minute people's paths cross and the next they don't. Sometime after Motion and Language, I believe Winn relocated to Athens, GA and then to Brooklyn. I heard snippets of his newer material and it really evolved in strong way, opting for a very authentic roots folk and blues flavor. I'd actually like to hear the full completed works (if anyone has feel free to share) and from what I understand the Wildebeest moniker has been abandoned and Winn has a new project called The Fish. Check it out here

Wildebeest Motion and Language track listing:
1. "Wisdom Tooth"
2. "Burggos Moon"
3. "Fighting Windmills Again"
4. "Harps and Trumpets"
5. "Intermission"
6. "Vegas Song"
7. "Return to the Fort (Fight Song)"
8. "Cat and Mouse"
9. "Living and Dying"
10. "Phil Writes Songs Like Kevin Seconds"

Download Here

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for putting this up!! My CD broke like 3 years ago and I've always wanted to hear this again! THank you!