Dublin’s new imprint Wow & Flutter makes a strong impression with its first two releases: an evocative echo of a well-loved house by M Shutak and a relaxing foray into drone by Department of Forever. The cassette designs are sharp and architectural. Even the track titles are memorable. The label has left nothing to chance, assuring their chances of success.
The Widow’s House pairs label founder Gregory O’Brien with old friend Gary Morrison. As M Shutak, the duo sketches an aural drawing of home via field recordings, gentle electronics and children’s toys. Since this is a widow’s house, we hear these toys as memories: little children on the floor, filling time with wind-up objects, waiting for the skies to clear so they can frolic in the fields. These are tender recollections, infused with gratitude rather than loss. The piano sets the stage, but may also be a memory itself: an old dusty Baldwin, the pride of the home when it was first purchased. The single vocal line of “The Southern Seaboard” ~ it was you and me, the southern seaboard ~ is backed by fiddle and fuzz. While these memories are abraded, they remain upright. The sound of a swing warms “Grow Old Graceful;” perhaps the children have visited with children of their own.
The label’s sophomore release, Unseen Pictures, comes from sound designer Steve Fanagan under the moniker Department of Forever. The tape shares the calming presence of its predecessor, while concentrating more on the present than the past. One particular title, “We Fought Against The Day And We Won,” sums up the mood of the release. There are, and will always be struggles, but we’re equipped to endure. Even if the times seem apocalyptically bleak (“Which Of The Four Horsemen Are You”), there is still room for humor. Recalling that “The Grass Won’t Care When We Are Gone” may help us to concentrate less on pulling out every single weed and more on walking barefoot over greenery wild and free. Blending elements of ambient and drone, Fanagan sends waves of soothing sounds over the listener, like blankets added to blankets on a cool night. Even when one hears the individual notes of the guitar, they operate more as tone than melody. Fanagan writes that his music is “(hopefully) meditative in nature;” trust us, Steve, it is.
With two more releases planned for late summer and ten over the next two years, Wow & Flutter has set achievable goals. By concentrating on quality over quantity, they’ve set the stage for a quiet impact. Welcome to the world, Wow & Flutter! (Richard Allen)