Wires Under Tension‘s debut, Light Science, plays with the notion of sound and pressure. The album is melodic and expansive, yet it fits snugly within a construct of working class instrumentalism. It is gritty without being coarse.
Wires Under Tension is Christopher Tignor and Theo Metz. Metz comes up with the percussion end of things, for the most part, while Tignor puts together an array of sound that is beautiful and mysterious at once.
Light Science is an album of layers, sure, but it’s also an album of deceptive simplicity. The mesh of acoustic music and electronic gear sounds complex on an initial listen, but subsequent listens reveal a quality of clarity to the work that sharpens the edges and draws out the fact that these really are fantastic songs.
The record opens with “Electricity Turns Them On.” Tignor works in a violin loop that meshes with the song’s beat. It provides a percussive base and allows for other sounds to pile on, like a second violin worked through delay and pitch shifter. Metz provides percussion with a number of different possibilities, engaging with both traditional drums and subtle bells.
“Ireversible Machines” continues the trend of layering, building on Metz’s drum foundation with violin and funky bass guitar. Phil Rodriguez drops by to lend a shot or two of bold trumpet, piercing the groove.
“Position and Hold” is another piece touched by Rodriguez’s trumpet. Other accomplices are in on the conspiracy this time, including a French horn played by Roy Femenella, a violincello played by Marlan Barry and soprano and bass clarinets played by Peter Hess. The foundation is still Tignor’s violin drones, of course. The real beauty comes from the recording of air traffic controllers from around the world.
It’s the juggling of various sounds and instruments that creates the vital strain behind Light Science.
Wires Under Tension doesn’t slip, however. They reveal a strong compositional sense in their ability to keep things relatively contained. This creates clean songs and, as such, a recording that is simply refreshing and enjoyable.
Light Science will be out on vinyl on February 8, 2011. A CD release date is set for March.