Like passing comets, releases by 50 Foot Wave are few and far between; their hypnotic mixture of ice-cold uneasy listening carefully warmed into its own unique sound by the sun. They are travelling to other dimensions, an unyielding triad that creates a sound so much bigger than the wave they surf.
Last sighted with 2016’s ‘Bath White’ EP and before that in 2011 on the ‘With Love From The Men’s Room’, 50 Foot Wave return with ‘Black Pearl’, as its title might suggest; an anomaly, a rarity, a gem. The title refers to the neighbourhood in New Orleans where the record was written.
Starting with the dark and light of it all (they are specialists at fusing unlikely bedfellows), there’s the heavy, echoey riff of ‘Staring Into The Sun’ with all of its grunge melancholy and dronecore menace – it’s them at their fuzzy best with time changes, key changes and a sliver of melody introducing a false state of calm, a suggestion that’s further examined on the following ‘Hog Child’, a teasingly mellow moment that sounds perfectly baroque by comparison, with Kristin’s vocal and her spidery guitar slowly dissolving into itself as bass and drums become motorik.
50 Foot Wave, is Kristin Hersh’s ‘other’ band (active since 2003, with fellow Throwing Muses’ member Bernard Georges on bass and drummer Rob Ahlers). They are ever changing, enigmatic, flashing between moods, leaping walls of sound. From their very beginnings, the trio have been hailed in various quarters as “an outlet for the material deemed too weird or wild for Throwing Muses”, their “menacing, stalking, spirals of lean, hungry riffs, set alight” as “feedback rips into the fragile melody”. Detuned and discordant at will.
Such prose is easy to decipher with half a lobe on this new release; by the time we’re at ‘Broken Sugar’ the wheels of traditional “rock” music have come off, the song structure has a life of its own and on ‘Blush’ they’re psychedelic and shoegazing, throwing all those sounds we love to live by at the previously mentioned wall which looks set to self-destruct.
Where the Muses are articulate visionaries and Kristin’s solo material is introspective and tactile, 50 Foot Wave continue to traverse the rigid tension of their own sound