High Wolf

Kairos: Chronos

High Wolf is a world traveller. Just ask any blog. His exploits have taken up Mt. Fuji, beneath the Ganges and across America and Europe. Through these travels the French-born world citizen has appropriated the sounds of his various journeys and put them to tape via his twisting, kaledioscopic take on Kraut inspired New-Age drone. For as worldly and catholic his experiences are, High Wolf's output has always had the opposite effect on me. All the worldly signifiers placing it "outside" are there: the omnipresent bongo and tabla percussion, the near-eastern ragas, the crystalline guitar and squishy, baggy synths that cut slackly through the clatter and the transcendental majesty of a record trying to communicate something greater than the sum of its influences. Inside these notty and often disorienting tracks, however, there is something that keeps them ultimately hermetic and sealed.

High Wolf, if we are to approach this as reverential, almost worshipful music, seems to be caught in a feedback loop, not between between himself and the divine, but himself and himself. The circuit is closed. Every sound on Kairos: Chronos is layered on top of itself on a slight, half second delay that creates a ghostly shadow-self as the sounds are looped over and over. High Wolf creates incredibly busy, disorienting music. If one were looking for ever ascending three note chariots to God, then look elsewhere. Instead, High Wolf creates flowing, buzzing traffic jams of holy travelers stampeding each other to Mecca. It is within this ever-oscillating, ever-droning tableau that stillness is achieved. The kind of stillness of a thousand waves of inner oceans faintly lapping in the deep well of meditative awareness. High Wolf's album artwork have frequently signaled towards a guru or old-world spirituality, but the music has always led to introspection and greater self-awareness despite of, not always as a result of, High Wolf's output. 

This is certainly not Western-style meditative drone. This is the type of music that can comprehend a God with a thousand names and worship such a being through exorcising all its modalities all at once. Take for example the album opener, "Kulti" named for a small town in West Bengal, the chattering, off-beat percussion and multi-tracked guitar are pranging off each other all at once. Your mind can fixate on two simple guitar melodies circling each other like ascending vapor trails, but to try to locate the source of the mass of swirling chimes and looped everything is virtually impossible and largely misses the point of the music. It is engulfing, not in that tidal-wave black metal way, but in the way that it is spread intravenously, almost virally, into your system. Kairos: Chronos doesn't confront, it adds and adds until it is overwhelming. To be kerplunked in the middle of any track would be completely disorienting. The album closer and long player, "Alvarado" is all shimmering, shoegaz-y guitars, bells and oscillating synths is more akin to kindred spirits Popol Vuh, a Kraut group who also looked to Central American mythology and traditional music for inspiration.

High Wolf follows a pantheon of 70's German groups whose appropriation of what was then "World Music" blazed a trail for "New Age" music to come. Kairos: Chronos picks up the stick at both ends, melding an album high on Kraut groove and arcing, beautiful guitar lines and New-Age's appropriation of "outside" music that bleeds out bliss. 

Ryan H.

High Wolf on Bandcamp

Not Not Fun

July 20th, 2013