A cyclical rhythmic groove, eerie droning voices, and raspy violin bursts mark the breadth of "I Control the Weather," the spacy, almost seven-minute opener on Dire Wolves' fourth proper album Grow Towards the Light. Headed by multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Alexander, the San Francisco collective have, over a ten-year span, issued scads of exploratory bootlegs, singles, and myriad D.I.Y. releases that bend acid folk, cosmic psych-rock, Krautrock, experimental jazz, and whatever else the group is feeling at the moment into lengthy pieces that often constitute one side of a tape or record. Sometimes the band's name includes the subtitle "Absolutely Perfect Brothers Band" or "Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band". However Dire Wolves present themselves, listeners are unlikely to have the same experience twice. While the band's intellect-driven improvisations come from the whims of the present, their mystic spirit feels deeply rooted in San Francisco's 1950s and '60s counterculture heyday. A former Deadhead taper back in the '80s (the band's name itself is most likely derived from the Grateful Dead's 1970 classic "Dire Wolf"), Alexander's career since then has been devoted to exploring various forms of out-there music, and this continues to be the case on Grow Towards the Light. The band here consists of Alexander on guitar and Moog synth, Georgia Carbone on vocals, Brian Lucas on bass, Sheila Bosco on drums and piano, Arjun Mendiratta on violin, and Taralie Peterson on saxophone. All are capable players with a good sense of space and of each other. Replacing former mainstay Lau Nau on vocals, Carbone takes her role as spirit guide to the extreme, moaning wordlessly on the dreamy "Discordant Angels" and singing in a made-up language on "Space Rider." Like a good deal of spontaneously made music, not every section here is essential or even that interesting, but enjoyed as a long-form piece of music, the album has its own kind of magic, drifting along cloudily and touching its wheels down on earth every now and then.
Grow Towards the Light Review
by Timothy Monger