WIFE is the solo electronic project of James Kelly, who is probably best known as the mainman of (unfortunately disbanded) insane, post-black metal band Altar of Plagues. WIFE started out with the release of the Stoic EP, an excellent specimen of the experimental electronic path, which Kelly would follow on his debut full-length, What's Between, released through Tri Angle Records. His new release, Standard Nature, sees a more balanced attitude between experimental electronic music and a singer/songwriter mentality, drawing elements from Stoic and What's Between but furthering the project's aim.
The themes of WIFE's explorations are directly derived from Kelly's time as an environmental researcher, and it is that duality between nature and artificiality that is studied in this record, something that is also very nicely depicted on the artwork of the record, where a machine reflects a rainforest. This contrast is highlighted also musically with the experimental electronic outlook and the singer/songwriter mentality.
The rhythmic patterns build the mechanics of the record, displaying a certain unpredictability in their progression. Kelly is able to harness easily a volatile scenery, with an intriguing instrumentation to go side by side. The frantic background, as in “Native Trade,” enhances the movement of the tracks, while the glorious synth sounds provide a plethora of different elements to vary the instrumentation. The glitch element is very nicely used through the record, enhancing the mechanical attribute of the album, granting an industrialized sense to the parts of the record. On the other hand, the use of vocals portrays the natural side of the album, and even though the vocal lines are heavily processed, they do not transmit a distant, detached feeling, but are subject to a more peaceful and serene characteristic, something that reaches new heights in “Lovelock.”
Standard Nature is a piece of work with a strong cinematic sense, depicting graphically the decline of the environment through man's actions (check out WIFE's videofor “Glass Interruption” to get a glimpse of that.) It is a hard truth to accept, and Kelly showcases that exact issue through his new EP, in the most excellent manner.
8.1 / 10
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