WHY? — Moh Lhean (03 March 2017) • The first album recorded in Wolf’s home studio since his 2003 debut, Oaklandazulasylum, and his first release since Testarossa, his side~project collaboration with Serengeti earlier this year, Moh Lhean looks set to be a forward~facing return to some familiarity.
• The new record, co~produced by Wolf’s brother Josiah, is introduced by lead single and opening track, “This Ole King.” Filled with warm acoustic and xylophone melodies and vocal echoes, it’s a lush track on the more organic side of WHY?’s instrumentation and delivery. “This ole king will be rising,” Wolf sings with a somewhat uncharacteristically simple optimism. Thankfully the sentiment seems autobiographical. © Yoni Wolf of Why? performing in Brussels in 2010
Formed: Oakland, CA
Location: Berkeley, California / Cincinnati, Ohio
Album release: 03 March 2017
Record Label: Joyful Noise
01 This Ole King 4:39
02 Proactive Evolution 4:37
03 Easy 3:09
04 January February March 0:41
05 One Mississippi 4:38
06 The Longing Is All 1:10
07 George Washington 3:09
08 The Water 3:22
09 Consequence of Nonaction 3:21
10 The Barely Blur 4:57
℗ 2017 Joyful Noise
• Yoni Wolf
• Josiah Wolf,
• Doug McDiarmid, and
• Matt Meldon
By Sofie Jenkinson / 21 FEBRUARY 2017, 10:30 GMT / SCORE: 8
• At certain moments in time, there is vast pleasure in the seeming frivolity of art. It is a necessary escape, an important release and a valuable form of expression in the midst of chaos.
• In times like these you come to know art, especially music, as a sanctuary. You appreciate it more; you bask in the playfulness; and you the delight in the importance it can take on.
• Moh Lhean is particularly successful at hitting this mood, right at the sweet spot, transporting you to a new plane instantly. It is WHY?’s sixth album, after a four year chunk of time away from the project and goes back to the start as the first fully home~recorded album since their debut.
• WHY? have always mined depths much deeper than most of the their contemporaries and Moh Lhean is no exception. Like a classic WHY? track itself the record builds, adding less usual elements as it goes, referring to itself at every stage. The tone feels simultaneously fresh and familiar, resulting in a finely balanced feeling of familiarity with pops of excitement.
• The moment the album opens with “This Ole King” the questioning tone of Yoni Wolf’s vocal cascades, with trademark slow, low chants and gradual build to multi~vocal layers. And that calming, comforting beauty of Wolf’s voice has become no~less magical over the years, and neither have the words he wraps his voice around.
• But even in the opener you can sense moments of change — with playful sound and samples peering through the background and the use of textures, timing and timbre used in new ways. “Easy” continues in this vein, pairing the recognisable and the innovative — creating new tension in the tracks.
• “One Missisippi” is the warm beating heart at the dead centre of this record, singing out “Stop throwing shadow on shadow and let it all go…”. It’s a great and glorious flash of colour nailed to a mast. While “George Washington” is a cool glass of water — a pure joy and moment of uplift with classic WHY? wordsmithery thrown in as it goes and goes, singing “A new love blooms on the long notes of old horns.”
• Coming in at just over half an hour this is a very compact experience, but is not one that feels lacking. For all its snappiness it still feels comprehensive, with pleasing weight. And although complex in its conception and bursting with energy it still manages to be a very calming experience — holding a peace at the centre.
• Listening to this record is completely blissful way to spend half an hour — and like much of WHY?’s work before feels like it has been carefully sewn together as an experience rather than a just collection of songs. It’s a thought~out piece of work; a collection of collaborating and competing daubs of colour across a blank canvas; a flock of sounds moving together as one, for one simple reason alone: to bring you joy.
Interview: Jack Lloyd
>> Elephant Eyelash (2005)
>> Alopecia (2008)
>> Eskimo Snow (2009)
>> Mumps, Etc. (2012)
>> Moh Lhean (2017)
>> Sanddollars (2005)
>> Rubber Traits (2006)
>> Sod in the Seed (2012)
>> Golden Tickets (2013)
>> Alopecia: The Demos!! (2008)
>> Eskimo Snow Demos (2009)
>> Mumps, Etc. Etc.: The Demos 2007~2011 (2012)
>> Almost Live from Anna’s Cabin (2003)
>> Almost Live from Eli’s Live Room (2008)
ALBUM COVERS VIII.
Za Zelenou liškou 140 00 Praha 4, CZE