|Chelsea Wolfe||Hiss Spun|
|Sargent House||Sept. 22, 2017|
Chelsea Wolfe — Hiss Spun (Sept. 22, 2017) ζ→ Darkly distinctive singer/songwriter with nods to electronic, folk, and metal. ζ→ Crafting “doom–drenched electric folk.”
Location: Los Angeles, California
Genre: Alt. Rock, Female Vocal
Album release: Sept. 22, 2017
Record Label: Sargent House
01. Spun 5:28
02. 16 Psyche 4:18
03. Vex 3:02
04. Strain 1:13
05. The Culling 6:00
06. Particle Flux 4:52
07. Twin Fawn 6:06
08. Offering 2:49
09. Static Hum 4:21
10. Welt 1:54
11. Two Spirit 5:04
12. Scrape 3:03
ι♣♦οι ‘When musicians have this intensity in them, they often get to it sooner and stay put. Ms. Wolfe sounds like she’s using it by choice, not disposition; she can use different kinds of darkness as colour or tincture.’ — NY Times / ‘The reigning dark priestess of goth~scarred art rock.’ Rolling Stone / Hiss Spun is Chelsea Wolfe’s sixth album. Following her acclaimed 2015 album Abyss, Hiss Spun is at once dynamic, heavy, and raw. NPR shared the song ‘16 Psyche,’ saying, ‘Wolfe has always possessed a talent for dynamic song writing, particularly concerning the theatre of the soul. But the masterful ‘16 Psyche’ is a full~on ride, and one that finds her at her most commanding and climactic yet.’ Recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), the album was conceived as an emotional purge, a means of coming to terms with the tumult of the outside world by exploring the complexities of one’s inner unrest. ‘I’m at odds with myself,’ she explains. ‘I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.’ Hiss Spun features prominent guitar contributions by Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age, Failure) and a guest spot from Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, SUMAC). Digging beneath the mess of the world to find the beauty underneath is perhaps the most consistent theme in Chelsea Wolfe’s expansive discography. ‘I wanted to write some sort of escapist music; songs that were just about being in your body, and getting free.’ ‘You’re just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fuccked over and killed for shiitty reasonsl, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember it’s been fuckked for a long time, it’s been fucckked since the beginning. It’s overwhelming and I have to write about it.’ Hiss Spun was recorded by Kurt Ballou. While past albums operated on the intimacy of stripped~down folk music or the throbbing pulse of supplemental electronics, Wolfe’s latest offering wrings its exquisiteness out of a palette of groaning bass, pounding drums, and crunching distortion. It’s an album that inadvertently drew part of its aura from New England winter, though the flesh~and~bone of the material was culled from upheavals in Wolfe’s personal life. Aside from adding low~end heft with gratuitous slabs of fuzz bass, long~time collaborator Ben Chisholm contributed harrowing swaths of sound collages. The album opens with the sickening bang of ‘Spun’, where a lurching bottom~heavy riff provided by Chisholm and Troy Van Leeuwen serves as a foundation to a sultry mantra of fever~dream longing and desire. The first third of Hiss Spun whether it’s the ominous twang and cataclysmic dynamics of ‘16 Psyche’, the icy keyboard lines, restless pulse and harrowing bellows of Aaron Turner on ‘Vex’, or the patient repetition and devastating choruses of ‘The Culling all carry the weight of desperation, lost love, and withdrawal. Wolfe’s introspection and existential dread turns outwards to the crumbling world around us with ‘Particle Flux’, an examination of the casualties of war. The electronic thump of ‘Offering’ serves as an ode to the Salton Sea and the encroaching calamities stemming from climate change. The obsession with white noise and global destruction carries over into ‘Static Hum’, where the merciless percussive battery of Wolfe’s current drummer Jess Gowrie helps deliver the dire weight of a sonnet dedicated to a ‘burning planet.’ By the time the album closes with ‘Scrape’, Wolfe has come full circle and turned her examinations back inward, reflecting over her own mortality with arguably the most commanding vocal performance in her entire oeuvre. Every Chelsea Wolfe album is cathartic, but never beforehas both the artist and her audience so desperately needed this kind of emotional purging.
Aug 14 2017, 8:39pm
ι♣♦οι Chelsea Wolfe’s sixth studio album Hiss Spun was catalyzed by a reunion. Around 10 years ago, the goth~folk songwriter had a band with Happy Fangs drummer Jess Gowrie, but the years since had been quiet for the pair. “[We] didn’t talk for seven years after I left,” Wolfe explains. “Two years ago, we started hanging out again, and along with our friendship the musical chemistry came flying back. It was important to me to play music with Jess again — she taught me a lot about music and how to be a front person of a band.”
ι♣♦οι The follow~up to Wolfe’s 2015 album Abyss began as a side project between the her and Gowrie, aided by friends like Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and Wolfe’s bandmate Ben Chisholm. Fueled by the comfort of their reconnection, Hiss Spun — due out September 22 — came to life as an evocative meditation on finding stability and sanity in a chaotic world.
ι♣♦οι Accordingly, the record opens with a disorienting swirl of sounds. The distorted screech of “Spun” gives way to the soul~shaking swell of “16 Psyche” and the mesmerizing pulse of “Vex” — demonstrating the omnivorousness of Hiss Spun’s power. “Each song has many worlds inside it,” Wolfe says. “A way for me to bring the songs together on this record was a list of short words with big meanings: flux, hiss, welt, groan, swarm, spun, scrape, [and] strain. They became a sort of guide. Flux represents movement and flow. Hiss is life force and white noise. Welt is the brutality of life, [and] groan represented sensuality and death.”
ι♣♦οι During the earliest stages of the project, Wolfe kept these words among a list of ideas and notes to guide her through her songwriting process. “Some of it was written during a time when I was staying with family while looking for a new place to live,” Wolfe recalls. “I didn't have much space to myself [so] I’d set up a little bedroom studio and would work on songs in headphones, creating my own world… It almost made me feel like a teenager again — understanding that feeling of escapism, a way out from physical surroundings. I found refuge in music.”
ι♣♦οι “16 Psyche” — the record’s second track and one of its standouts — is a clear result of that time spent alone. Sharing its name with the recently discovered asteroid and the Greek goddess of the soul, this cosmic ballad examines how life’s restrictions — self~imposed and otherwise — can alter us. Shot in a single day at a studio located in downtown Los Angeles, the video for the track allowed for Wolfe to tap into what she calls the “claustrophobic,” “frantic,” and “feral” aspects of the song. Viewers bear witness as she attempts to break free from the faceless and bandaged attendees who try to restrict her mobility. The stylized confinement brings to mind the surreal panic of the videos for 1990s anthems by Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, which she says she sent as references for the video to director Zev Deans, along with visuals by Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones.
ι♣♦οι Much like her videos for “Carrion Flowers” and “Feral Love,” Wolfe says the clip was shaped by grappling with her mental and physical health. “I deal with extreme anxiety that gets exacerbated by bouts of insomnia,” she explains. “I’m constantly trying to find ways to calm down… That has manifested into addiction at times [and] I carried a lot of that into this record, especially on “16 Psyche” and “Spun.” In doing so, Wolfe was able to open herself up to the world rather than closing herself off.
ι♣♦οι Through vulnerability, she was also able to find healing. “There were some things I hadn’t dealt with before, from the dark past of my family, to relationships I’d had, to my own health,” she admits. “Some of the songs became a personal exorcism and some of them were written in dedication to the hardships that others have faced.” It seems only fitting that the album was recorded in Salem, Massachusetts by Kurt Ballou, a decision that added an additional thematic layer to the LP. “There is a lot of anger on this album for what my female and genderqueer antecessors have had to face, so recording in a town that historically murdered women for being “witches” was fitting,” says Wolfe.
ι♣♦οι Because of this openness, Hiss Spun ends up feeling like a portrait of transformation and hope. “In this era, everyone is expected to really have their shit together at all times and present it as such on social media, but it’s okay to embrace the mess of yourself,” she says. “That’s the first step towards personal growth.” Wolfe encourages us to be at peace with transition. “Take it one day at a time,” she suggests, “Surround yourself with good, supportive people in real life. Know that it’s okay to change.”
|Chelsea Wolfe||Hiss Spun|
|Sargent House||Sept. 22, 2017|