These guys first appeared (belatedly) on the radar back in the early days of December, but what with the Christmas/New Year chaos that’s dominated the past few weeks, now’s really been the first opportunity to introduce you to their wonderful baroque musings . Truth be told I was also holding out to see them at Club Fandango on the 3rd, a majesty of coincidences resulting in Oxford based WILDSWIM and Brighton based HMCMB just happening to be in the big smoke on the same night. As such the chance to see them live was too good an oppourtunity to miss.
Due to it’s sheer impressiveness the aforementioned live performance seems the best place to start. I approached the gig with a touch of trepidation, when a band has tracks of the depth and complexity that WILDSWIM do they often struggle to achieve the appropriate charisma needed to pull them off, whilst still conveying the texture and intricacy that makes their music so alluring in the first place. Thankfully any such concerns were gloriously misplaced. Forget simply doing their recorded pieces justice, these guys were, sonically, on a whole different level live. That’s not to say they were wildly thrashing around and whipping the crowd into a frenzy, more that being in the same room as them led to a far rawer and more immersive experience. Particularly powerful was the baritone of Richard Sansom, the vigour of his haunting vocals providing the perfect accompaniment to the fascinating soundscape that the rest of the band dutifully provided. Couple that with the excellent technical support provided by the venue, namely the light design, all on-beat strobes and blackouts, and the result was a highly memorable evening.
At this point a spot of backtracking is most probably in order. Richard Sansom, Carlos Posada, Jamie Jay, Sam Robinson and Jacob Lively aka WILDSWIM, and previously Picture House, have been playing together for 5 years now, which sounds commendable as it is. And that’s before you learn that that means they first formed at 14, and are now producing the very music that the industry at current raves about for it’s aged sophistication and wisdom. This despite the fact that the pioneers of this very sound, think The XX and James Blake, are also remarkably young… Indeed WILDSWIM could well be the lovechild of such pioneers, albeit a child who has most definitely forged their own path through the musical landscapes of everything from minimalist dubstep, through deep house to dark pop.
Their “Broken Flowers EP” hints of exciting things to come. Tempestuous from the off with the surreal brilliance of “Another Night” jarring with the seemingly clumsy refrain that overlays it’s second half. “The Fallout” sees any clumsiness well and truly stripped, and in it’s place a superb meticulousness. From the quietly pulsing opening to the undoubtedly pulsating chorus upon which Sansom’s operatic vocals ride supreme, this is a simply outstanding track. There’s a jaunty fairground feel to the hectic weirdness of “Face The Music”. Which, to buck the trend of the other tracks, if anything has more of it’s magic captured in recorded, post-produced form. Father Blake would be most approving of the electronica underpinning the melancholic “Bright Eyes” which in it’s restraint proves an appropriately eclectic and indeed quirky close.
“Hard Dust” is the bands most recent release, and the most polished. It has a somewhat cheerier feel to it, chiming, bubbly but more importantly focussed. It certainly provides an interesting contrast to the morose stylings of “Broken Flowers” and in doing so leaves you with no clue as to where WILDSWIM are heading next, which I feel is exactly how they would want it…
WILDSWIM – Hard Dust
WILDSWIM – Broken Flowers EP