Lying on your bed and listening to a record the whole way through can be a spiritual experience. Eventually the ceiling becomes a work of art, and the songs flow about the room. In the sleepy college town of Blacksburg, Virginia, Jack Tatum was inspired to make a new kind of music after listening to The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine records in his bedroom. And so, using only a couple of mics and a laptop, Tatum recorded what would become the Wild Nothing project. The six month result was Gemini, a grand homage to all the 80’s bands that captured Tatum’s ears in his childhood. Incredibly bright highlights like “Summer Holiday” and “Chinatown” inspire furious dance moves performed in microscopic fashions; a slight rocking of the hips/a conservative loosening of the neck/a sequential shuffling of the feet.
However it was his wonderful cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” that first brought the spotlight to bear. Tatum replaces the original’s hopping strings with his own brand of sparkling synthesizers and rushing warble.
So when Wild Nothing plays at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Saturday, July 16th, one would be forgiven for wondering if a record recorded entirely solo in a bedroom will translate well to live performance. The answer being is that it does. Sadly, the intimate bedroom quality isn’t imitable live, but in its place is a great band that includes members Nathan Goodman on guitar, Chuck Violand on bass and Michael Skattum playing the drums. The loss of the lo-fi distant quality isn’t something to lament, the record will always hold that. Though their absence, the words of the songs really come through, where great lyrical songs like “Your Rabbit Feet” and “Live in Dreams” can really shine, and frankly, be understood (can your ears squint?).
If you ever get the chance to Wild Nothing live, and if you’ll be there on July 16th, you’ll be lucky enough to see a great live outfit with a huge potential for live performances, and a wonderland in their albums.
(Gemini is available now from Captured Tracks)