Album Reviews

Winged Wheel: No Island

The collaboration featuring Matchess’ Whitney Johnson release their debut LP.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels as though collaborations have exploded. Perhaps it’s always been that way, however over the past two years the quality of collaborative releases feels at an all time high, with some of our favourite releases being of this nature.

And now we can add Winged Wheel to the list of artists who have the ability to carefully unpick the lock to your soul.

Comprising of Cory Plump (Spray Paint, Expensive Shit), Whitney Johnson (who came to our attention earlier this year as Matchess and with her fantastic Drag City debut, Sonescent), Fred Thomas (Tyvek, Idle Ray) and Matthew Rolin (Powers/Rolin Duo), each member of Winged Wheel has been prominent in various DIY communities across North America. Whilst having crossed paths over the years, it’s only now that the members of Winged Wheel forge their influences to create a unique body of sound with their debut offering, No Island.

Label Watch: Trouble In Mind Records

While post-punk may be a dirty term these days, Winged Wheel inject new life into the genre with hypnotic, motorik rhythms that sound like they’ve been produced from a different orbit. There’s no better example of this than on Grey on Great.

Backtracking and this journey starts with Monsella. Like trawling through the misty backstreets, the whirring skronk buried deep in the mix is something akin to a soundtrack of a James Ellroy novel. Overshadowed by building flanged guitars, Johnson’s vocals are like a ghostly blur. In fact, her voice is like a thick blanket of fog that envelopes No Island.

Winged Wheel - No Island

The synth-based Drinking with Flies sees Winged Wheel trying their hand at more conventional song structures and, suffice to say, succeeding. Meanwhile Central Ceiling and Stone Oaks are throbbing hypno-rock numbers that feeds into Johnson’s Matchess endeavours.

Winged Wheel continue to flex their muscle and range, and with Blue Pigeon they sweep up scraps from the cutting floor, creating the kind of odd-and-ends patchwork that consists of crazy colours and designs. If anything this is a bright new version of post-rock.

Water Damage: Repeater

And the left turns continue on closing track, Passive but Jag. Essentially, this is where kraut rock and shoegaze meet, encapsulating what No Island is; a swathe of ideas thrown into the melting pot to form one tasty broth.

With No Island, Winged Wheel enter the warped sound world that Moin dragged us through with their 2021 debut, Moot! Here, however, we have a slightly less abrasive version of that, with sounds that sooth instead of scrape, as Winged Wheel showcase inventive new ways to bend guitar music into the kind of shapes that are unique and essential.

There are always surprise new releases and new artists spawning from the woodwork and what Winged Wheel have produced with No Island is something elusively superb.

No Island is out now via 12XU. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

2 replies on “Winged Wheel: No Island”

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