H&H // AUSTER EP – WOZNIAK
Originally published on Hooting & Howling
With every slightly balding man and their negelected collection of fuzz pedals that were even tenously linked to the sacred phrase of ‘shoegaze’ now gearing up and reforming their old bands as the year passes, it’s becoming ever increasingly easy to dismiss the whole wave of new movement as nothing more than a nostalgia trip. What’s shamefully kept even quieter is the new blood – fueled by the same ’90s aggression and a healthy dose of effects pedals – breaking through to make sounds even more innovative than their celebrated predecessors, and Wozniak fall into this sect. With their second EP hitting the shelves this week, the Edinburgh four piece deserve if anything more attention than Mark Gardener stood in a poor choice of hat playing an (albeit incredible) song he wrote twenty five years ago, and ‘Auster’ proves exactly why.
Melting into the EP on the note of most recent single ‘Snow Effect’, the band’s penchant for massive noise is instantly evident. Producing a towering wave-esque riff that leads into a cinematic wall of thick, gritty distortion, a distinct air of melancholy ensues – tiptoeing somewhere between the dark crashes of drums and the juxtaposing lost, soft vocals of Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr, with each contrast defining the twisted sense of beauty found in the music of Wozniak and those alike.
Dominated by an instant and ever promiment bass groove, ‘Wings Of Pegasus’, however, provides a snap back to reality, with relentless motorik rhythm driving the distinctions between layers of shimmering verses and crushing, fuzzed out choruses, whilst guitars shine through the width of the sound to bring sparse infectious hints of melodies more conventional.
The convention does naturally not last for long though, as ‘Gospel Of Infinity’ builds from sparse strumming to conjure up the atmosphere of a sullen war cry. With storms and swells of euphoric guitar riffs and thunderously morose bass, shuffling drum rolls are left free to dominate the music before a breakdown with the seeming intention of a call to arms bursts through, centered around layers of effects experiments and compelling distortions. It’s at this point that the musicianship of the quartet is blazingly evident, with not a vocal in sight for the past ten minutes, it becomes clear if one featured it would seem utterly defunct within the finely tuned workings of each track. Wozniak’s music speaks entirely for itself at every twist and turn each minute throws, and final track ‘Hester + Zelda’ proves to be no exception to this.
As the 8 minute subdued swansong epic of the EP, it’s hardly surprising the piece is a broodingly bleak affair. Spawning from a lone bass riff, swirls of chorus soaked guitar reverberate around smooth drum beats slowly burning in the musical background, leaving everyone to guess where the track is headed for some time. The build however is drawn through continuous repetition, with intricacies that alter throughout, leaving layers of delay and reverb to amalgamate a discreet structure of sound as the time passes, before one last intense burst of distortion and thunder proves the final lease of life on the EP in a majestic battle between an uproar of screaming guitars and tumultuous drums – until all that remains is the sole fading bassline once more.
With the band taking the title from the Roman God of south wind, claiming it to ‘reflect the elemental forces at work on the four tracks’, it’s hard to dispute their case. For the duration of the EP, the experience is somewhat like being stood in the eye of a hurricane, moving from sombre calm to a menacing ferocity in mere seconds, and when considering this atmosphere is only created by a handful of guitars and a drum kit, you can’t help but marvel at the beauty of it all.