Wail Premiere Self-Titled Debut in Full: Out This Week on Translation Loss

Posted in audiObelisk on July 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

wail

Philadelphia instrumentalist four-piece Wail release their self-titled debut July 23 on Translation Loss Records, and across its 10 tracks they jam out like the Philly All-Stars they are by any other name. Featuring Yanni Papadopoulos and Alexi Papadopoulos of Stinking Lizaveta on guitar and bass, EDO‘s Pete Wilder also on guitar and drummer Grant Calvin Weston, who’s worked with James “Blood” Ulmer, Billy Martin and hosts of others in varying jazz, funk and fusion contexts in addition to performing solo, they don’t skimp on pedigree, but the hour-long Wail is of course about more than the stuff they’ve done before. The bounce and surging lead guitar of “Family Man” and the jangly underpinning of swing in preceding opener “He Knows What it Is,” building to a fullness of tone and then pulling back to make room for the next solo, the jab-throwing rhythm of “Symmetry” and the way its burgeoning psychedelic feel give over to the nine-minute stretch of “Astronomy”a and the ensuing languid hypnocraft in the first half there — rest assured, they grow freakier as they go — all of these elements come together early on the record to establish a sonic personality with the confidence to go where it wants and follow improvisational whims, but also to build a conversation between the players involved and dive into the chemistry there. Just so happens there’s plenty of that to go around.

If you’re the type to sit and analyze — there’s no wrong way to listen — you’ll find the quality of play here humbling. Dig into the snare work and intertwining guitars and bass of “One World” after “Astronomy” and the rock-jazz affect of the whole is certainly more than the sum of its parts, but that doesn’t mean the parts aren’t still damn impressive. In this way, Wail‘s Wail engages dually, and is cerebral as well as expressive, maybe born of the players’ desire to work together, though in the modern recording climate and era of the ‘pandemic project,’ I should note I have no idea how much time they’ve actually all spent in the same room. If you told me the record was all done live, written and improvised in the studio and recorded over one weekend, I’d believe you. If you told meWail Wail they passed files back and forth for eight months in 2020 and built the songs up one at a time that way, I’d believe you too. I’m very trusting, but I’m easily hurt; don’t take advantage. The point is that however it was made, the vibe here is real, natural and fluid. Obviously, if someone’s going to put a song called “Philly Strut” on a record, they damn well better bring it, and Wail do, funk-tioning as a unit with just an edge of the unhinged to remind you there’s still a chance you’ll get your ass kicked if you hang out long enough in town trying to meet Gritty.

Maybe I’m a sucker for psych-jazz — maybe I also breathe oxygen — but as “Oceans of Mercury” answers back to “Astronomy” in the-only-other-song-about-space fashion, its guitar noodling with due exploratory sense, mellow but not inactive, the breadth and scope that Wail covers becomes that much clearer. It’s fitting that so much of the album is about what the band can bring to light working together — you can hear it throughout the entire span, even in the more atmospheric moments, and they offer no pretense otherwise — but there’s forward potential in that too, and it’s when they stretch out in that kind of flowing movement that it comes forward. “Expert’s Reprise” is brighter somehow but revisits the jangle strum of “Family Man” earlier on and it becomes the bed-jam for an extended shreddy solo that consumes much of its second half, receding temporarily before breaking out again, leading to the trippy “Pyramids” in the penultimate spot, which puts guitar-as-synth (or just synth) and other effects to use over a sweet bassline that holds the whole thing together.

That leaves only closer “Abbath is Drunk Again,” which at 6:54 is a strut unto itself in terms of the band reaffirming what’s worked so well for them all along — a looser feel than some of what’s come before it, but still keeping to a structure not unlike “Expert’s Reprise” where everybody’s going along cool and then wham comes a dizzying guitar solo over top. They end cold, clicking off a pedal, and offer a quick couple seconds to process before the end. Not too shabby. Especially considering Wail as a debut release, the level they’re executing at is emblematic of the experience they bring. Even in its most unscripted moments, the very happening isn’t happenstance. It ain’t a coincidence they kill it. One imagines them swimming around each other in Philly’s talent pool and finally creating a swirl enough to get together and, well, wail for a while. And so they do.

I could go on — it might be fun — but inevitably if I did I’d end up using the word “skronk” somewhere and nobody needs that shit. You’ll find the premiere of the whole shebang on the player below, followed by a killer by-the-numbers quote from Yanni Papadopoulos the pre-save link for the album, courtesy of Translation Loss.

Enjoy:

Yanni Papadopoulos on Wail:

1. Wail is working man’s music. If you’re outside painting houses for a living, baking in the sun while biting flies feast on your flesh, you know that some upbeat swinging jams are what will get you to cleanup time.

2. My lead guitar tracks on this record are all first takes with no edits or punches. I’m proud of that and I think it gives the record an off-the-cuff feel.

3. I’m heavily influenced by Wino and Greg Ginn, but also by Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Hazel. I’ve seen tons of heavy shows in my life, but one of the heaviest was Funkadelic. I was part of the sound crew for a big outdoor show in 94′. We unloaded six Marshall full stacks to the stage and two SVT cabs. Then Funkadelic came out and played Cosmic Slop. Sonic Youth, who had gone on just before them, seemed like a Tonka toy by comparison.

4. Wail just wants to be the funk band at your stoner rock fest.

5. Progressive rock influences are important to me, so it’s a pleasure for me and my brother to work with veterans like Calvin Weston and Pete Wilder who have been prog heads for decades.

pre-save link: https://orcd.co/wail

Yanni Papadopoulos: guitar
Alexi Papadopoulos: bass
Pete Wilder: guitar
Grant Calvin Weston: drums

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