Waheela – A Wreck So Clean (Cruel Nature Recordings)
If you’ve ever faced the elemental power of a Waheela show, you’ll know that the kind of semi-improvised, cathartic sonic eruptions they deal out on stage would be impossible to capture on record.
But over albums such as Amber, HX Pop and their last opus, 2016’s Treading On Weird Lines, they’ve showed different sides to their character, breaking their music into tracks (albeit lengthy ones) rather than opting for the 30 minute noisescape you’ll hear live. The Newcastle quintet have delved deeper into their mellower side and woven vibrant new textures into their fabric.
And that approach continues with A Wreck So Clean, recorded at Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds by Tom Goodall of experimental noisemongers Cattle.
Goodall has harnessed Waheela’s primal surges to such a degree that, at its heaviest and most intense, this opus is an almost frightening listening experience. A good example is the jarring, off-kilter Burden Room, a seemingly loosely structured jam violently punctured by Adam Potts’ unearthly screams: run from it if you dare.
Dern is (in Waheela terms, anyway) a more direct affair, anchored by doom-drenched riffs, riding washes of sound and powered by James Porter’s relentless, skipping groove, while opener A Certain Voice and Face walks similar terrain, albeit at a slower pace… and accompanied by the sound of nesting kittiwakes crying overhead.
But it’s Dead Upset, which concludes the album, that marks A Wreck So Clean out as one of this act’s most important releases. A gentle drift across the cosmos, accompanied by lulling guitar tones, (very) slowly builds into a violent solar storm, Pott’s distant wails getting nearer, Andrew Gladstone-Heighton’s bass becoming ever more prominent, until the song seems to plummet into the heart of a sun. After burning up, it morphs into a blistering, cyclical noise jam that stops abruptly, rather than fading out in more typical Waheela fashion. It’s one hell of a closing statement.
Some fans of Neurosis, Oxbow and even Mogwai may ‘get’ what Waheela do. Many won’t. But this band only ever do things on their own terms, something demonstrated once again with A Wreck So Clean.