23 May 2011
by Tom Dare
There’s a unique joy to those albums that require the listener to invest themselves, that challenge the ear and will pass you by if you do not give them adequate attention, and offers a juicy reward when it finally sinks in. Wolverine‘s latest album Communication Lost does offer those delights in recompense, but fucking hell do you have work for them.
There are many gorgeous passages on Communication Lost that hint at a record of the “doesn’t leave the stereo for months” ilk. The mixture of proggy ambience, keyboards mixing with the mournful vocals, and at times almost lilting guitars are utterly sumptuous, and the manner they wistfully meander into each other is genuine art. That trademark Scandewegian ability to sound truly miserable without needing to be melodramatic is ever-present, and the moments where things work best are dripping with honest emotion that is highly powerful.
Yet for all the obvious merits (and there are many) it struggles to be fully engaging. When focusing and concentrating on this task, the effect of the intensity is striking. The problem lies in the necessity to actively put your mind against it – Communication Lost falls naggingly short in its ability to absorb itself into your mind and just let things flow. The rewards may be considerable, but the experience is hard bloody work. Every time you finish it, you feel like you need to push that sodding rock up the hill once again on the next play.
Herein lies the problem – at some point even the most challenging music needs to start feeling like an instinctive listen. It’s one thing to ask the listener to undertake a hard slog on first listen, but if that persists then something is amiss. That essential connection between the raw emotion of the music and the listener hasn’t been strongly enough established.
Watch Wolverine in the studio during the record sessions for Communication Lost:
This may sound like over-analysis, but the truth is Communication Lost is a battle that never quite ceases being strenuous or becomes as enjoyable as it should be. The atmosphere is lush, the sincerity without question and a number of the tracks fantastic. The emotional effect is undeniable, but the sheer mental effort needed is exhausting, and ultimately prevents the experience being fully pleasurable. Ironically, Communication Lost does not translate fully when taken as a whole.
Sounds like: Anathema, Katatonia
Top tracks: Pulse, What Remains, Communication Lost
Wolverine – Communication Lost tracklisting:
Into The Great Nothing
Your Favourite War
In Memory Of Me
In The Quiet Dawn