My uncle once said the albums you don't like at first are the ones you like the longest, and the ones you love right off the bat never last. Spill Into Atmosphere arrived several weeks ago. I listened immediately and put it away. My wife doesn't like Wet Hair. The LP comes with a fold-out poster, black ink on newsprint, like Maximumrocknroll but not as thick, more Dada, more op art. If you open it like a newspaper or magazine it's upside down and sideways, but if you open it backward it's just right. There's so much there, pretty women and Japanese characters and radiating stripes. Here are six square inches: A late-70s/early-80s actress looks left, eyes wide; two giraffes line up to look like a two-headed giraffe; two horses aligned like a two-bodied horse; a stack of long rectangles, two with patterns, one with a hand, one with an eye; a flower; circles made of lines; a man with a black stripe and four white dots across his chest; a small white circle in a large black one; folding chairs; a hippy girl. God I wish I had a black light.
I played it for the second time a couple weeks later with both doors closed between my wife and me. When it finished I asked her what she thought and she said, "Horrendous." I wanted to listen to it again, several times. All I can remember of the second listen is that everything fit, every freaky German twist of it tucked right into its perfect and weird little spot. It took a few months and few listens for In Vogue Spirit to surge on me and become one of the best of 2011. This one's tighter. The next night I split a bottle of Bogle with my wife and the dogs were at our feet. We listened to Woods, who are friends with Wet Hair, and weird, but not weird enough to make my wife hate them. It's important to have music that your loving other hates, whether it's the Germs or a dozen standards Willie Nelson tossed off in 1982. I'm sure it's the vocals that upset my wife. Shawn Reed's voice is flat the way a knife is flat.
On Saturday we had over a couple friends who are moving to a town 326 miles away. We tied one on one last time. Last winter I went with them to see Wet Hair at a house in Atlanta. My wife didn't go. They liked the show, and they say they like Wet Hair. They're college professors in their forties. To get ready for the evening I drove to Atlanta to get some fancy big-city stuff, and on the way up there I listened to Spill Into Atmosphere and In Vogue Spirit back to back on my iPod. I'd long thought it strange that Reed is a weightlifting basketball fan. Wet Hair isn't jock music. But as I raced up the interstate and the new songs ripped through the earbuds, I understood. The new Wet hair is disciplined and sharp-edged. Of all sports, basketball is the most musical. I put the record on after we had dinner and it overpowered the conversation, even after I turned it down, so I took it off and replaced it with Autobahn.
Now it's Sunday and my wife is at Target so I have Spill Into Atmosphere on loud. Wet Hair shifts gears during "Color & Shape" and they jam the sort of jam that's great to jam-out to when you're folding clothes or pacing and pumping your fists, things best experienced alone. Much of the record is like this. I interviewed Reed a month or so ago via email, for a piece that hasn't run yet elsewhere, and he told me, "Longevity is hard to create and sustain. The more you gain, the more you have to lose. It’s that tricky balance of not having too much want, or too much ambition, but still doing something meaningful with your time. It’s always fading, everything as it comes, it’s going," and, "I am always curious how long I will be able to keep it up before it kind of eats itself or just stresses me out to where I can't deal with it," and, "I defiantly work at trying to be healthy, physically and mentally." Yes that's what this record sounds like.
Below is a documentary I made about the art, set to "Color & Shape." And below that is a video Elise Tippins of Featureless Ghost made for "Color & Shape."
Get the goods at De Stijl.