Review of Empty Estate EP by Wild Nothing

The one-man lo-fi project that is Wild Nothing just keeps going from strength to strength. While last year's 'Nocturne' long player heralded a more beat-laden approach for Jack Tatum than the C86 inspired song structures of predecessor 'Gemini', 'Empty Estate', his first release of 2013 takes him another step further towards completing his mission of touching on every musical genre known to man.

Wild Nothing Empty Estate EP

Written and recorded over a ten-day period in January of this year after Tatum spent weeks listening to Brian Eno and David Bowie in search of divine inspiration. The seven pieces of music that make up 'Empty Estate' draw from a wealth of ideas and sounds, several of which embrace new territories as those familiar with Wild Nothing's previous output will testify. Tatum admitted in a recent interview that he'd become bored with the concept of being a musician and playing the same songs live every night, which also probably explains the cross-pollination at the heart of 'Empty Estate' and its all-inclusive palette.

Whereas 'Nocturne' seemingly dealt with the inner Prince lurking inside Tatum's locker, 'Empty Estate' fulfils the notion that while most certainly being a jack of all trades, Wild Nothing's creative force is well on the way to mastering them all too. Opener 'The Body In Rainfall' might take a leaf from the How To Write Standard MOR manual as ordained by George Harrison and assorted members of Fleetwood Mac were one to exist, but on closer inspection there's a whole lot more bubbling away under the surface than just radio friendly pop born out of a 1970s fixation. "Tell me what you think of me?" asks the diminutive Tatum over a guitar that cries tears of joy rather than weeps solemnly. As a lead track one would expect the rest of the EP to follow suit in uniform-like fashion, that they don't speaks volumes for its creator.

'Ocean Repeating (Big Eyed Girl)' takes its mesmeric cue from Bradford Cox and Deerhunter without falling into the specific box reserved for dreampop or shoegaze. Segueing incidentally into 'On Guyot', a floaty instrumental based number awash with nothing more than keys and percussion, the two individual pieces work well as a twosome despite their obvious structural differences where both tempo and key changes are concerned.

Better still is 'Ride', three-and-a-half minutes of Neu! influenced motorik beats where Tatum delivers the line "Ride with us." over and over until the song fades. Simple but effective in demonstrating a further string to Wild Nothing's ever increasing bow of delights, it stands out from a very impressive pack as the highlight of 'Empty Estate' and arguably one of Tatum's finest compositions to date.

Meanwhile, 'Data World' mixes eighties pop savant faire with the lush orchestral sounds often attributed to M83. Think Kenny Loggins' 'Danger Zone' given a 21st Century makeover only with an additional fanfare of synths. Penultimate floor shaker 'A Dancing Shell' veers into woozier climates inhabited by the likes of Washed Out and Neon Indian, which although not entirely original, represents another giant step away from Tatum's well-acquainted comfort zone. That the final four-and-a-half minutes ('Hachiko') resemble an unsettling step into a futuristic void is neither here nor there. The dye is cast, the bar raised to impeccably dizzy heights. Where Jack Tatum and Wild Nothing head next is anyone's guess, but for now 'Empty Estate' is a welcome experimental diversion into pastures new.


Dom Gourlay

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