BALTIMORE’S Wye Oak are on a real creative roll.
The stylistically free-grazing duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have released a video for “AEIOU”, a taster for their new EP for Merge, No Horizon, which is due out on July 31st.
It’s composed of a beautiful animated line drawing to convey the lyrics, put together by animator Bradley Hale from artwork created by Eva Claycomb. Watch it below.
The song pushes Wye Oak in another new direction. The band, who released early folksy-shoegazey albums on Merge before pushing towards a more layered, synthy sound, here burst out into a massively widescreen dreampop vista.
Hoving into being on a one-note piano, it breaks out into a chant of the vowels from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, with a background chorus pushing the melodies into the baroque. Warm, shoegazily-informed guitars caress; Jenn intones impressionistic lyrics which seem to dance around the flaws of communication. “If you speak my name / Use my real name / The one I gave myself” … “But mountains are not pictures of mountains / Or the letters that spell the word”.
Drums patter and thunder in on breaks; Jenn’s voice brings the quality of a very British, raw folk soliloquy, something of the free interpretation of Sandy Denny, as the music builds and the youth chorus chants again, launches for high harmony, bursts like a shaft of light through clouds.
It’s a very big, clever and brave musical vision, and repurposes and revitalises a strand of high progressive folk-rock for a new century, making it a form in which to address the now.
Jenn says of “AEIOU”: “[It’s] about the inadequacy of language. It was written around the time that those currently in power took it upon themselves to think that they could minimize the existence of certain people by removing the words that we currently use to define them—like transgender—from use.
“Language is bigger than the powers that try to control it, but we are so much bigger than language. We are so much more than anything that can be suggested with words.”
The EP’s title points at the five songs’ exploration of “the isolation created by technology: how it makes us feel simultaneously too connected and disconnected, in the presence of an audience of people we wouldn’t otherwise be in contact with if it weren’t for the endless scroll.”
The No Horizon EP has been pressed on pink vinyl, and comes in a screen-printed clear plastic sleeve. You can pre-order a copy at the Merge store, or across digital platforms and elsewhere here.