Washed up on the shores of Brighton UK, we find “A Slab About Being Held Captive” laying there quietly in the sand. This soaking enigma is the latest creation of Louis Johnstone, following up an influx of recent vinyl on Opal Tapes, Notown, Where To Now?, and Svetlana Industries. Since their debut release “Bass Urine” on NNA in 2011, Wanda and the girls have matured to a new point of refinement, sinking deeper into the careful organization of disconcerting sounds. “A Slab” truly is a seasick collage, with a pervading aqueous essence flowing throughout the two side-long pieces, carrying along with it fragments of field and domestic recordings and sample clutter. Syrupy waves of sound meld into one another with cinematic pacing, forming a gelatinous backdrop for hard cut interjections of concréte style sample manipulation, lending themselves to an air of confusing tension. As the liquid bath abruptly turns to slate, a group of gulls squawk at a bubble filled with muffled porno moans as they glide by. Body sounds and animal conversations are drowned out by the mechanical purrs of an industrial assembly line, sputtering and choking their last breaths as they struggle to stay afloat. Maddening tones seem to permeate from within, sizzling their way through the stereo field like two magnets dancing, drilling through the headspace. This hypnotic phenomena forces the mind inward, reducing it to a skull full of opiate brain mush and half-cooked soggy memories. These collections of moments may fall shamelessly into near-nothingness at any given time, eventually refilling themselves with sound in a cyclical rising and falling, perhaps acting as an abstract reflection on mental states of indifference, alienation, or just general life terror and bleakness. Wanda’s ability to maintain compositional fluidity throughout such a dynamic range of materials is reinforced by an original sense of movement and pacing, and the ability to form a creative symbiosis between cold sterility and organic warmth. Although ultimately, it’s probably best left to the artist’s own words:
“WANDA GROUP IS OR COULD BE OR WANTS TO BE A GROUP
IT IS NOT
I SHOULD BE BUT I AM AFRAID IT NEVER BECAME ONE
EITHER DUE TO A LACK OF FRIENDSHIP, KINDNESS OR POUNDING HUMAN REGRET ?
WHO KNOWS ?
WANDA GROUP TRIES TO MAKE EARTH MUSIC
THIS COULD BE INSIDE OR ABOVE OR RIGHT ON THE LAND
I THINK THAT YOU SHOULD LOOK AT CONCRETE OR MOUNTAINS TO TRY AND MOVE YOURSELF
ART GALLERIES WORK BUT SOMETIMES I THINK PEOPLE NEED TO LOOK AT THE STUFF THAT IS GROUND OR SHOVED RIGHT INTO THE EARTH OR HAS BECOME THE EARTH
ALL IS ONE SORT OF THING ETC
WANDA GROUP DOES TRY TO LOVE IN A MASSIVE WAY
IT IS ALL VERY SERIOUS AT POINTS AND SOMETIMES I NEEDS TO BE
WANDA GROUP REALLY SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO FUCKING SPEAK OR TYPE (MAYBE ONLY EXIST IN A STATUE ?)”
Mastered and cut by Lupo at Calyx Mastering in Berlin, Germany.