A Brooding Landscape: Wrekmeister Harmonies, Auntie
Photography: Bryan Yalta
A sharp understanding of texture and form; this seemed to be the center of attention Thursday, May 4th at Double Wide. The two acts of the night, Auntie and headliner Wrekmeister Harmonies, displayed a clear sense of control in terms of composition and volume, which, in turn, created various desolate landscapes by mere instrumentation.
Composed of a drummer and a sampler/synth player, the duo Auntie opened the show with amalgamating noises, glitching samples, and electronic experimentation. Though instrumental, the band’s music itself spoke firmly through its heavy cymbals-driven percussion and distorted synths. If that wasn’t a language the audience understood, the act made a blunt statement visible by having a sign onstage that read, “Drugs Kill. Get High.” Auntie’s sound blended the organic with the electronic, reminiscent to that of Cabaret Voltaire if the drum machine was replaced by a real drummer.
The main act, made up of guitarist/vocalist JR Robinson and keyboardist/violinist Esther Shaw, built up a set list that made it hard to distinguish one song from another as their transitions created a continuous sound. Directed by dynamics, Workmeister Harmonies’ songs felt more like movements, which started calm and gradually escalated into intense and amplified chaos. They were like storms that came and went—Apollonian forces inevitably invaded by Dionysian elements.
"Some Were Saved Some Drowned" by Wrekmeister Harmonies
However serious the tone seemed to be, there was some dark humor that the lead singer added to their presence by commenting once, “This song is about dying. People have died here in Dallas, I’m sure. You people killed Jesus. Here’s more songs about dying.” All in all, Robinson’s voice had a deep, almost gothic resonance similar to Peter Murphy or perhaps Scott Walker. It added a compelling manner to the sorrowful stories he told over each track. His grim guitar riffs were compatible with Shaw’s airy melodies on the keyboard, sometimes adding eerie bells or piercing violin parts which enhanced the depth of their sound. Just as steady as their sonic ferocity grew, their composure came back the same way until, quite abruptly, they walked off the stage without warning, keeping part of the audience confused as to whether they had finished or not. The last storm had ended.
Wrekmeister Harmonies is currently on tour supporting their 2016 album Light Falls. Check out more photos from the show below.