MALK (The Super Nintendo Chalmers, SCRAN, Mahatma X) presents WMAIDIT – short for ‘Watch Me As I Die In Time’. Arriving on Lost Tribe Sound in April as part of the label’s Dead West cassette series, MALK’s slanted angles and diverse, mysterious tones produce an active and well-populated album that grows with every passing second. Not much is known about Will Becker save for his name and his hometown being Philadelphia, but mystery is central to the record’s fabric. WMAIDIT delivers a musical punch; surprises are clustered around every corner.
Becker abstains from music theory and the constrictions of genre conformity, and the result is a quick-fire collage that shakily arrives at some sort of leftfield folk or slanted Americana, but the sonic melting pot escapes conventional categorization, existing outside of Tetris-styled blocks and structures that scream ‘ this must be placed here, and that must be placed there’. It defies description, doesn’t care much for boundaries or expectations, and because of this, the music is free to be itself, which is awesome.
Almost all of the sounds on the record come from the Mabie Forest in Dumfries, Scotland, except for the acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, melodica, ocarina, banjo, and toy keyboard. Those have been sprinkled on top. Designed to be lost in a forest, but with technology still present, the pine scented tones and gentle, expansive field recordings conjure up its flourishing spectacle. The phosphorescent white glow of a phone screen is the only thing that can bring the listener back to reality, but even this suffers from a bad signal and a low battery.
The raw and unedited chords of a smoky acoustic guitar burn like tiny flames, and they could’ve been recorded using an app on the phone. Other than that, this record is an escape. Birdsong meets a glistening stream of water, and a chord progression, coming from the embers of a campfire jam, colors everything in a flickering orange. This record is alive – crawling with life, fertility, and vitality. Pale shades of jade and high definition greens work their way into the tracks, and natural harmonics ring out with the chiming purity of harps, glinting in the light like a droplet sweet with morning dew. The wood garnered to make the fretboard in the first place can sing back to the place of its birth. Branches sway to the rhythm. Leaves eclipse the light.
A waterfall gushes out of the speakers, its light spray doing enough to make the recording real. The technological hit comes from a wave of gnarled distortion or an inserted field recording – a sound from the forest or from conversation – that cuts in and out, looping and providing an unusual rhythm of its own making. But these recordings, when meeting the guitar, don’t feel too jarring; the phone lights up, but it’s set to silent. The staggered recordings are able to stick cohesively to the music. The chords appear as wonky and angular, like a tuning from an alien planet, and this helps to give the music more of a weird eye. Everything unites, though. While connected to nature and higher things, the music’s also a record of diversity and ecology. And that’s something to celebrate.