Cakewalk - Wired [Hubro - 2012]This is a short little album, six tracks over about half an hour, on Hubro. I’m reviewing a promotional copy, which is a printed card wallet - I’m not sure if the official release is the same. So, we get six pieces of post rock/jazz/krautrock/fusion, with a lot of processing going on; and, alas, it generally makes the worst of that melting pot.
Cakewalk are a three piece - synths, “guitar, bass and boxes” and drums - but they have a very full and cluttered sound indeed. Often, there’s too much going on really; and the sounds get in each other’s way. The production doesn’t always help, often being rather flat and murky - on “Soil” a droning effect is almost created, the sounds are so compressed and cluttered. Saying this, “Soil” is one of the highlights of the album; mainly due to the fact that its unashamedly soundy: it doesn’t have to deal with the idea of “repetition” thats wrestled with in the rest of the release.
The virtues of repetition are emphasised by leaning towards a united overall sound and, well, being repetitive. The less these things are achieved, the closer you get to “jamming”. This isn’t to suggest that “Wired” is a collection of jams, because it clearly isn’t. Neither am I casting aspersions on the musicianship of the trio, since they’re obviously very adept and skilled in that department. But, apart from a few passages where they lock in to something - like “Kammer”, with its somewhat anthemic proggy march - things tend to veer very close to “jams”; if only in the structural sense of having one insistent repetitive element that the other elements play around. In practice, this means a bass line or guitar riff thats looped constantly, whilst everything else spirals around it. So “Wired” is often repetitive in parts, but rarely as a whole; so that propulsion and hypnotism that was often attained by Can (for example), is never touched by Cakewalk. (Curiously, the first few seconds of the album sound remarkably similar to Pram - a band who certainly made repetition work for them.) There’s no real sense of dynamics across the tracks, beyond the breathing space of “Soil” and the march of the last piece; everything is more or less pitched at the same level, which is kinetic without being frenzied.
For me, a lot of “Wired” does fall into that unpleasant area, where jazz/etc musicians spice things up by appropriating the “noise” and “lumpen power” of rock. Something I always find curious, since some of the most abrasive recordings I’ve heard have been “jazz” recordings. I realise its a cliched narrative, but there is that sense of “conservatory” musicians trying to rock here, and failing dismally. “Perpetual” and “Wired” even introduce spiky, distorted (and anomalous) guitar riffs into the equation, which should be exciting and chaotic; but there’s still the ominous shadow of “jamming” hanging over them. Indeed, most of the tracks sound like sections of a much longer piece - sections where a prog band (for example) might riff on an idea for a while.
This isn’t an album which I imagine will ever visit my stereo again. It has a lot of good processed sounds, as well as good sections - parts of “Descent” achieve effectively dark tones, and the end of “Glass” has a very nice slowing and lessening - but the overall effect is rather vapid to my ears. As the ending of “Glass” shows, Cakewalk have excellent technique and taste, but…Martin P