07 Jul 2022 - Stephan
Post-Rock, Noise, Ambient | 12 Pylons | Release date: 24 Jun 2022
Wärmi is Wärmi is Wärmi.
I cannot tell whether “Hotty” is an actual bronze sculpture or if it has only been modified to look like one. In both cases however, the idea of Rebecca Schwarzmeier’s artwork comes down to the same antitheses: Something warm and wiggly becomes cold and adamant. Something mundane is elevated to artistic size. How much of this transformation is real or illusion doesn’t really affect the beholder. The hot water bottle still is a hot water bottle is a hot water bottle. Granted, the normally rather convenient than decorative item is objectively useless now. But then it has also gained beauty - or at least aesthetic weight if you will. So which bottle is actually more valuable?
Well, I’m glad that we don’t have to solve this question here and now, begetting dizzy heads in the process, because last time I checked VoS was a site mainly dedicated to music, not visual arts. But sometimes you just got to appreciate an original album cover and follow your train of thoughts on it - especially when it strikes you how perfectly it fits the music, even if you can’t quite grab why that is.
Maybe the superficial simplicity with the rich potential to fish for deeper meaning below the surface is a common feature of both the cover artwork and Miira’s music on Wellness. The Southern-German guitar and drum-duo doesn’t provide us with much context. There’s only the album title and four Roman numbered instrumental tracks, which despite seeming to be constructed from improvisational ideas have as good as nothing to do with jazz at all, even with me being the something with jazz guy here.
The two musicians rightfully refer to themselves as a post-rock band, and I would further specify that categorization by putting them on the raw and experimental end of it. Miira also feel traditional, cozy and comfort-zonal in a way, because in truth there is probably no moment on the album which hasn’t at one point in their discograpgy been played by Michael Gira’s Swans before. It’s an inevitable part of their sound’s DNA, no matter if it comes as noise rock primitivism akin to what Big Brave are doing - or in the slow ambient build-ups mastered by post-reunion Swans or the bleak ballads of Wrekmeister Harmonies. The duo-format also brings to mind other groups such as NYOS or Dead Neanderthals, the latter especially during the occasional wild beating attacks and some guitar noises which could also come from an effect-loaded saxophone.
Miira are dynamic mood architects, building much bigger soundscapes than you would expect, suddenly destroying and rebuilding them as they please. The abruptness of many transitions reveals that the arrangements, at least at some points, have planned structures, but the loose, atmospherically driven performance and the vast acoustics of the empty concert hall in which Wellness was recorded, give it a naturally flowing, very immediate effect. Oftentimes this album feels more like an aural natural force than just two guys playing compositions on instruments.
Even when these tracks touch on the defined grooves and modern post-rock grandeur of Russian Circles, it decidedly sounds rather like a rough sketch of those ideas, as if Miira don’t want to let any perfectionism or virtuosity outshine the purity of their music’s temperament. And it works. Despite its edges and noises this album makes it very easy to just get lost in its evocative vibe. Despite their sound being rather dark and seldom utilizing obvious beauty, listening to Miira feels surprisingly good and uplifting.
Wellness is Wellness is Wellness.