"Different Wings" by Downdraft

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"Different Wings" by Downdraft

Review

I wouldn't write as regularly as I do I think if it wasn't for being continually surprised by local music. High quality is a grand attribute, but predictability takes the edge even off that.

So thank you again to Reiss Pinder for taking me unawares.

Reiss managed to gain great critical and popular feedback for his previous band & continued this with his solo work. Then came HEK, certainly one of the finest new bands to emerge in recent months from Coventry & Warwickshire. That alone surpasses what many artists might aspire to.

Except that Reiss now tells me of yet another project of his, the band Downdraft whose "Different Wings" is now available.

This lineup features Reiss purely as a vocalist with guitar contributions from Dan Murtagh (lead) and Starkey (rhythm) while Alex Sidwell is on bass guitar & Kurt Sidwell on drums.

If his solo work & HEK raised a few eyebrows for its lack of similarity to that of Wilde, then possibly Downdraft has been put together to satisfy Reiss' inclinations to also develop that more rock based noise. Once again I find myself writing something along the lines of how new listeners would not connect the creator of "California" nor the HEK material to that of "Different Wings", but it's the solid truth. This is another great example of how certain, open minded & diversity-embracing artists can create meaningful work which scorns the genre handcuffs which so much of the music business & mainstream media seeks to bind them within.

If anything, Downdraft out-raucous anything Reiss has done before that I can recall hearing. It's possible that the intensity they conjure up requires such an uncompromising approach to vocals that he felt he needed to be liberated from his own instrumental duties to give his full attention. It's interesting how, for some reason, the louder end of the musical spectrum has produced a number of interesting & creative acts I've been reporting on recently: I'm thinking of bands like Massasauga, Monastery, Bright Black & now Downdraft. I hesitate to use genre-centred terms since as noted above, I find them more restrictive than helpful & secondly as I don't particularly understand them in relation to harder rock music. I'm not sure those bands themselves use them except when necessary: let's just stick to "louder". I certainly have always been wary of plunging into genre-specific pools and I'd certainly say that too many acts who liked to be thought of as "heavy metal" or similar, sought acceptance through slavish adherence to norms which became clichéd: and much could be said of other restrictive genres, the originators of I remain very fond of, but less so the tenth generation copyists.

Somehow therefore, there is a resurgence of creativity in the loud music world: how much of this is sustained by the artists supporting each other would be interesting to learn (I note for example that Reiss works in HEK with members of Monastery, though the resultant music is very different).

So how does this manifest itself in terms of what we hear? Well I'd say it boils down to an interest in clarity through noise. Famously, Joe Strummer said in answer to alleged incomprehensibility of his own singing "…to me our music is like Jamaican stuff – if they can't hear it, they're not supposed to hear it. It's not for them if they can't understand it.." and I think this applied to heavier rock too. Now, musicians like Reiss who take the time to write thoughtful lyrics, would presumably wish them to be heard. Likewise, if you have good musicians playing, it's respectful to be able to discern their skills & imagination in the parts they've worked up.  So what you get is both arrangements which are less dense & production (in this case courtesy of The Moonbase) where the aim is not to compress all elements down into one wall of sound, however impressive that might be to some people, but loud music whose elements can be appreciated.

Since the words of "Different Wings" are idiosyncratic to the point of freakiness (not a negative criticism), by hearing them, the lack of comprehension that would have occurred if they'd been at all muffled is at least avoided: you can hear them: but then you have to make sense of them still…. I think it's a yin & yang song, possibly about opposites attracting, or at least disparate couples seeking common ground. But I could be completely wrong. The good thing is that you can make your own minds up & take from the song your own conclusions.

Whether Reiss chose this more oblique lyrical approach with its unsettling images to suit the Downdraft approach or it's just coincidental is an interesting question: again, multiple interpretations are possible. The good thing though is that the information is available & you can also appreciate the quality of the musicianship of all involved.

Quite how Reiss' musical world is currently shaped with at least three startlingly different projects is going to be fascinating to follow.

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