It’s been two years since Bristol’s lo-fi psych downer pop troubadour Oliver Wilde released his last, and glorious, album ‘Red Tide Opal’ in the Loose End Womb. In those fifty five minutes Wilde re-defined not only what an English guitar album could, but should be about. It sizzled with ideas, but most importantly it was back up with killer songs. Then he went quiet.
In the intervening years Wilde toured, wrote, recorded, but more worryingly was diagnosed with Cardiac Sarcoidosis. As he was finding out that his heart was scarred, recording sessions were put on hold so he could make regular trips to hospital. Now these sessions has been completed and ‘Long Hold Star An Infinite Abduction’, a “long form EP”, and is set for release on his spiritual home Howling Owl Records.
These seven songs, eight if you count a bonus track, are just as powerful as anything Wilde has previously released, but due to his hospitalisation there is a joyful vibe, almost euphoric at time, but under pinning everything is a cynical and embittered pang.
‘Echolalia’ kicks things off in fine form. Walls of delayed loops flood the speakers and slowly fade out as quickly as they appeared until a scratchy guitar and Wilde’s trademark woozy falsetto vocals make an appearance. Then the band kicks, each sounding like they’re playing a different song at a different speed. Delicious strings erupt and bring order to the chaos. Wilde’s description for ‘Echolalia’ was “Echolalia, the soft response to clean compartment ‘section-by’ sound columns tied to hard ones. Without veins of repetition, beautiful strings come miles to remind my agoraphobic open space to appease, and the band begins to play.”
‘Blitch Scratch’ starts with gentle guitars and vocals, until it all kicks off with flailing limbs and ravaged instruments. It also features fellow Howling Owl label mate EBU, along with Tara Clerkin, Silver Waves and MXLX as “The Hacked Singers”. Their inclusion helps lift ‘Blitch Scratch’ to unparalleled heights and offers one of the stand out moments on the “long form EP”. The minute long outro is as exquisite as it is terrifying. Demonic sounding vocals a backed by baggy beats, giving the impression of an indie disco in hell. “‘Blitch Scratch’ is the sound the cardiac monitors play as I make bestest friends with ICD, the horse kick altruist.” Wilde explained.
‘Fade’ contains some of Wilde most evocative lyrical imagery on the EP. “We stayed up as the moon dials, In an ancient sleeping field” and “Go get the bed sheets, Some nice blankets, to sleep, The sun lays out all upset, Climbs into set, to unwind and rest” shows that he hasn’t left any of his early talent at painting both lurid and ambrosial pictures. Musically everything moves along nicely, there are not sudden jolts or juxtapositions of sound and texture.
‘It Was Nice to Have Met You’ closes ‘Long Hold Star An Infinite Abduction’ in a subdued manner. Wilde said of it “‘(It Was Nice To Have Met You) is sad to listen to now, the great ironic apology not deserving or needed, the last hurdle of the longest tangent I ever wrote. Take it as it comes, like a good friend should.” These forty one words, along with this verse sum up the purpose of the song perfectly “We played dress up as shame, in our domesticated fame, Our cold read careful words, were turned back into dreams, Where no one can hear us in the, old shooting groves, Bow if you can hear me, or shake if no one’s in, Guess no ones in”.
On ‘Long Hold Star An Infinite Abduction’ Wilde is firing on all cylinders and challenging not just us, the listeners, but himself too. With confronting his illness, Wilde has confronted death and was able to move on and continue writing and recording. Rumour has it that he probably won’t tour this collection of songs, nor play them much when he does, but that’s fine. There are preserved here, forever in vinyl and on the internet, like mosquito’s trapped in amber.