Jan St. Werner: Glottal Wolpertinger – album review
Glottal Wolpertinger is the the sixth installment in Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars) Fiepblatter Catalogue series. Simon Tucker reviews.
Intellect and soul. Two components that make great music connect. If one if missing then there is an off-kilter feel to what you are listening to. It can be enjoyable on a purely intellectual level but can be missing that soul, that connection, that heart. This can lead to style over substance releases where all we as listeners are getting is musician as peacock….showing us their feathers….desperate to impress. In the world of experimental music this can be a real bore. Noise for noise sake. It can be difficult to find music that balances the two core elements of heart and soul in the world of experimental music. Luckily for us Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars) is someone who inherently knows that to gather an audience and create that connection and that unspoken language you must be more than tech-wankery sound artist. There MUST be a clear objective.
Glottal Wolpertinger is a perfect case in point. From the press release we gather that this was originally conceived as a radio installation. The project features guitarists Aaron & Bryce Dessner of The National and consists of “microtonally tuned feedback, multispectral drones which Werner modulated and filtered with a purposeful, and indeed vocalized, emphasis given to the different frequencies and textures used.” This is all good for those looking to delve into the nooks and crannies of the project and its unusual goals and construction (if fine points and tuning names are your bag then jump right in on this one) but where does that leave the audience who look for a deeper and more soulful edge to their journey through noise? Well, Glottal Wolpertinger leaves them all pretty bloody happy as this is one of the best albums released so far this year in the realm of the avant-garde.
As you move through Glottal Wolpertinger you gain a further understanding of the beautiful undercurrent of heart music that runs through it like an undisturbed crushed snow vein. On Glottal Wolpertinger Feedback Band 4 the piece rolls like a gentle tide and the soaring electronics fall into a meditative rhythm that hooks you in and allows your thoughts to centre. The flip side to this serenity is album highlight Glottal Wolpertinger Feedback Band 6/ B which is a deep and gloriously insidious listen that manages to pack more menace and creeping dread into its four and a half minutes than most so-called “serious” post-punk artists cram into a whole album. It is a moment that allows for that perfect connection between your head and your heart.
With Glottal Wolpertinger, Jan St. Werner has unveiled a project that stands high and above the average experimental project. This album may be wordless but it sings to the skies and to the deep. Glottal Wolpertinger has moments of direct melancholy, uplifting beauty and noise that pushes the mind to the extreme. There is nothing stark or distant about Glottal Wolpertinger, it is intimate and enticing. Take the trip……