By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
Maybe "difficult" isn't the right word. "Skewed," perhaps. Wilson sings in a rasp-infected whisper that's additionally "treated" to convey a somewhat otherworldly feel; it's like a voice one might recall from a dream, not a waking experience. Adding to the surreal vibe is a plethora of acoustic guitars, some with odd Eastern tunings, layered in such fashion as to sculpt a humming/droning wall of sound -- in places they sound like cellos (and a violin actually does appear). Phil Spector it ain't, though, for Wilson is careful to let individual axes, plus piano, synth, horns and percussion instruments, poke through with regularity, lending warmth and personality to offset the aforementioned oddness.
That's the general description; what about the songs?
One early standout is "Takin' a Train," a pulsing -- yes, trainlike -- modified blues song whose titular phrase provides an irresistible vocal hook. Another, a seven-minute instrumental called "Vaval," suggests a traipse across an urban landscape, right down to the dueling street-corner saxophones. "How I Died," with its brushed drums, standup bass, airy guitar flourishes and muted trumpet, is a mournful slice of noirish lounge jazz. And "T(h)om Verlaine" is a riveting, complex psychedelic suite brimming with some astonishing riffery that pays due homage to the Television guitar maestro.
Give Illyah Kuryahkin a chance. He'll slip in and steal your mind. But after some pleasurable tinkering, it'll be returned to you.