Drift by Wayne AdamsRelease date: March 1, 2021
I often find that albums I review are produced by Wayne Adams, the dude is obviously well-known for his production at Bear Bites Horse Studios as well as his bands such as Cower, Death Pedals, Big Lad, Pet Brick and Deaf Brick. However, it’s nice to see a release that is just the man himself taking centre stage. Let’s delve into Drift.
Being familiar with Wayne’s previous efforts, I’d have expected this solo effort to be yet another face-melting, brain-bludgeoning noise work, but to my surprise it seems to be rooted more in a background of ambient electronica and synthwave. I actually think that this direction allows fans of Wayne’s work to see more of his versatility as a musician and producer and the choice of instrumentation allows for a much more smoothly polished sound, which nicely rounds out his body of work. The tracks are all named in a kind of Aphex Twin-esque fashion either referencing gear used or essentially, I would guess, naming them as easily-organised project files, potentially due to a vast number of sessions. It may well have been the case that 50 tracks where composed, assessed and compiled before reaching the final array of songs we hear in this release.
It could also be the case that there’s more of these to come. ‘SYS55 19’ starts the album off and I’m guessing the name of the track refers to the Moog System-55 which would stand to reason, since the track sounds amazing and in short, Moog essentially translates as really fucking cool sounds. For the casual listener, this track will likely bring to mind the soundtracks of Drive and Stranger Things and the whole synthwave boom that followed. I won’t speculate on what Wayne’s actual influences are though, they’re probably too myriad to accurately compile. The track’s slow-burning atmosphere and warm production make for an enrapturing opening piece of music ideal for late night writing sessions, such as this one and alike.
‘Mini L Modular Six’ is the sophomore entry into Drift and it’s an instant winner for me. The soothing ostinato at its helm is catchy and spell-binding enough to carry the entire piece and as a listener, I enjoy that I gradually become more attune to each of the layers involved. Be it the really delicate and fuzzy sunbeams of tape hiss or the crooning underlying synth pulses. The pads at the end of the track sound like the seaside as it should be, transcendent, meditative and relaxing. Although, the seaside from my experience is squawking birds and disenfranchised youths…but, I digress. A really solid piece of music.
‘SYS55 18’ starts off with some really nice low octave brass synths that remind me of some music I made on LSD once. I love that sound of low, reverb-soaked simulated brass, it’s so sombre, absolutely oozes pathos. Wayne manages to alleviate some of the gloom with another well-executed arpeggio, that reminds me of Rave Tapes-era Mogwai, the filter sweeps allows the layer to drift (see what I did there) in and out of the other layers really nicely and to be honest, the track just flies by for me. It sounds great. The atmosphere is solid, really well-constructed.
I like the sampling on the album a lot and ‘Motor Two’ starts with a really clear example of that being well-done. This track actually reminds me of ambient/quiet Nine Inch Nails, quite possibly my favourite piece on the album. Some really beautiful melodies, balanced out together nicely, with rich analogue texture. The high-end, top-line melody is very welcomely sedative and the delay sounds great. The transition to ‘SYS55 3’ is really cool, definitely shows a lot of awareness of motif and overall album construction and vision. The track itself sounds like someone brought The Postal Service into 2021 and as a result gave them a fuck load of SSRI’s and benzodiazepines. It’s just barely melodic above the weight of its gloom. Right up my street. Again, the sampling helps to weave everything together, in a Bob Ezrin kind of way.
‘SYS55 5’ is the penultimate track on the album, this one is surprisingly bright given the nature of its formers. Perhaps that’s the album’s arc, a deep depression, a harsh winter, a shitty year and a new beginning? It’s a little too wet for my ears but, that’s because I’m a miserable cunt. I like when it unravels more at the end to be a bit more subdued. Closing track ‘Motor One’ dashes my fan theory, it’s a bleak affair much to the delight of this sourpuss. A more drone-based and ambient track than most of the predecessors, but one that sounds cool, none-the-less.
Overall, I think that Drift is a really intriguing and well-executed solo effort by Wayne Adams. Hopefully, fans of his usual racket will appreciate the artistry and production that went to this more subdued work.