Wilder Maker is a band from Brooklyn headed by Gabriel Birnbaum, a name you might recognise from our post of the Genius Loci compilation series. As the title might suggest, Everyday Crimes Against Objects of Desire Vol. III is the third EP in the Everyday Crimes series, closing the trilogy of experimental, intelligent pop/rock/folk/jazz releases.
For those unfamiliar with the previous EPs (I admit I was, until this one landed in my inbox), this piece by Nathan Huffstutter for Paste Magazine serves as a neat introduction into the style and aims of Wilder Maker. After failing to make an impression with 2013’s Year of Endless Light, Birnbaum did the only thing a capital-A Artist can, dig in and make more. The Everyday Crimes Against Objects of Desire trilogy rose from this situation like an idiosyncratic phoenix, reacting to the indifference of a too-busy, painted-by-numbers-favouring world by celebrating experiment and creativity. Despite all dealing with the basic subject matter of a hard break-up, the EPs vary in style and were recorded in different studios. After the opener ‘Hope Springs’, Volume I is dark, angry and desperate, the mood switching between strange (like duet ‘White Knuckled On The Wheel’: “I take you cause you’re mine/forever this time/your teeth are on my neck/I’m ready to die”) and outright apocalyptic (e.g. ‘Zion’: “even in my terror mind when the gates are all wide open and the fire climbs from room to room/and the beasts are screaming and my heart is screaming and the sky is screaming and god is fast asleep and the bottle ain’t no good”). Volume II is sparser, recorded mostly live to give a smooth folk/rock sound akin to Bill Callahan. Heartbreak is once again the focus, with the narrator unable to let go of love yet also fearing the consequences of keeping it. As detailed on ‘Careless’:
“The waiting now is the hardest part
it’s insane I cannot touch you while we lean on your car
oh I can love again, please don’t make me love again”
I have just finished reading Jonathan Franzen’s Purity, a book which, like most of Franzen’s writing, concerns characters of various levels of depth kicking lumps out of one another in the name of love and happiness. As ever his ability to capture the depressing paradox at the heart of a failing relationship. Even the smallest word is packed with malicious intent yet the grandest gesture is found abstract and empty, a fantasy of a solipsistic mind. The kicker for most of Franzen’s characters is that once they achieve ‘freedom’ from the suffocating oppression of a loved one, they learn that the real source of the torment is within themselves, the removal of other people merely removing blame and false hope of reprieve. Which brings us to Volume III of Wilder Maker’s trilogy, where the narrator is experiencing this very realisation in slow motion as the pain of the break-up is eroded by time. Opener ‘Only Wanted You’ plays like the lost words of resignation in a silent aftermath, the sad soliloquy once the phone lines have been cut and new rules drawn, while ‘Summer Drifts’ is an attempted escape into sun and drink and good times where trouble lurks just under the surface. Both songs find the narrator ignoring (or maybe genuinely not seeing/understanding) something vast and dangerous below his own surface, the nagging sense of woe persisting through his new start and leading into the central track of the EP.
‘EZ River’ sounds like Van Morrison meets M. Ward, Birnbaum’s vocals cutting through the meandering soundscape dominated by laconic saxophone. The tone is at odds with the lyrical message though, at least upon first listening, with the easy rhythm hiding a deep uneasiness and sense of caustic, internal pain. However, after a few repetitions and closer attention, the very opposite begins to feel true. The music feels less juxtaposed against the lyrical torment as actively working for it, sweeping the narrator along in an misleadingly strong current of illusionary peace. So, rather than floating away from his troubles, he is floating with them, every metre he travels downstream a second lost in his attempt to be satisfied and happy.
“Oh easy river I want my heart to bend
the way the light just runs you through
but I just feel the sweat begin to bead
oh easy river watching me with my own eyes
too blank to even be a simple enemy I could use
all this splendor laughs at me and my fickle moods
where there should be bliss, oh god
there is emptiness
I am bored to tears counting echoes til I leave this behind
I wait beneath the infinite my toes in the infinite but my my my my
my heart is immeasurable untouchable illegible to me
some days it’s just too much work to love and so I don’t “
But, luckily, that is not the end. ‘California’ comes out the other side, as Katie Von Schleicher takes over lead vocals to produce a slow and eerie song, the aural equivalent of the tentative morning after a storm, while ‘No Xmas In Bushwick’ is a full-bodied pop song with almost celestial backing vocals, the closest thing to liberation on the record. The closing track is a special recording of ‘Hope Springs’, the original version of the song that opened the trilogy on Volume I. While the track is the first one written after the break-up, it is one of hope and forgiveness, where kindness blossoms despite the pain. It’s telling that the project should cycle back to this, as if for all the anger and torment and despair, the default human setting is one of empathy and grace.
Everyday Crimes Against Objects of Desire Vol. III is out on the 9th October on Bleaksploitation Records. You pre-order it from the Wilder Maker Bandcamp page.
Cover Art by David Foarde