BEST OF 2013: 16. Oliver Wilde – A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Lightyears

I wrote about the strange feeling of being handed music by somebody you know when covering The R.G. Morrison’s beautiful ‘Diamond Valley’, and similar sentiments can be applied to this wondrous debut. Oliver Wilde is a warm, enthusiastic and generous chap who I met through my potentially unhealthy attachment to Rise, Bristol’s premier record emporium, where he helps keep the South West in fine tunes and sorts out orders for pedantic vinyl purchasers like me. Having established that he had fine taste and was a safe bet for recommendations, it took one of his colleagues to tell me that he had started releasing music of his own. Quite why he had been ensuring his light was obscured, bushel-style, I’d no idea as this was something very special.

After a little cajoling, Oliver finally passed me a promo of this beguiling album and many months of fascinated listening began. There are plenty of records in this list that have made plenty of other lists, plenty of albums that do exactly the sort of thing you would expect to appeal to me, but there are also a couple that are genuinely unique. Curious, rough-edged, truly creative sounds abound on ‘A Brief Introduction…’ and it rewards your willingness to indulge it. Somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Elliott Smith, this is a fuzzy, woozy sonic world that never loses its melodic sensibility. While their actual songs may not have a huge amount in common, the philosophy is similar to that of the Super Furries at their peak, where they deconstructed and scuffed up their beautiful tunes.

‘Perrett’s Brook’ served as a fitting taster for the album, with its travel-sick drone and sweetly glitchy loops. Like many of the songs here, you find yourself only really starting to understand them months after you first listened. It’s a special feeling when you find an album that’s still growing, still evolving, even if the artist has long since moved on.‘Something Old’ pairs an acoustic strum with some gentle electronic manipulation and a wonderfully evocative lyric: “You’d better catch another drift ‘cos you didn’t catch mine, it just got lost in time”. It’s probably the standout moment here, although out of the fuzz emerge many memorable melodies. The unsurprisingly mid-paced ‘Happy Downer’ is bedecked with a curious loop of what sounds like some breathing apparatus. The idea of needing assistance to keep afloat captured in a simple sound. It slowly broadens out into a shimmering, glittery soundscape, offering some hope. For a debut album, the sheer scope of ‘A Brief Introduction…’ is remarkable. Having been relatively under the radar thus far, it still seems crazy that this record is being shouted about from every corner of the music press and beyond. Take a listen and spread the word.

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