What first intrigued me as the music of Wet Eyes fell into my inbox was that all music (aside from minimal drum machine programming) is played live, a standout for the ambient/electronic genre. Ross Auger is no stranger to music, having clocked six years in melody. His solo project, Wet Eyes, is in its infancy, but what a productive year it’s been! Air Is Movement is the third offering on bandcamp to date, with more expected.
Inspired by everything from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to nature to memories of a more personal nature, Air Is Movement is an audio-journal of sorts – confession by music. Without further ado, let’s slip into the ambient world of Wet Eyes.
Shandy: With a heavy-handed acoustic guitar riff surrendering to electronic darkness, Air Is Movement is kicked off with a track that captures the “everything live” approach of Wet Eyes and its ambient rock vibe. It gives a feel of Trent Reznor crashing a bonfire singalong and bringing the moody grit of his work to the party.
Lemon Contrast: The delicate high notes plucked on the keys add a sense of innocence to an otherwise moody and borderline ominous melody. Like droplets of rain assailing a brushfire. Intriguing composition and definitely evocative.
8 Fold Flower: There’s a definite flavour of the Far East between the lines of this tune, a short little number that ripples – or perhaps folds – upon itself. A fairly standard origami creation is the 8-fold flower, so consider this a sonic blossom, fold by fold.
Fake Hand: Featuring vocals from Cecelia Erholtz, “Fake Hand” has a strong guitar presence, which I really enjoy. The vocals are minimalistic; they don’t distract from the composition, but rather add to it. Voice as instrument. It builds to an almost violent electronic height, only to fall away and fade out. Part of me feels the song should have ended with the rise to accent the ominous lyrics.
Settle Down: One of the longer tracks on the album, I really love the core melody. It’s got a hip-sway rhythm to it that sticks in the head. In my mind, I have this image of someone who has married to appease his family or other outside pressure. He is standing in his suburban backyard that he bought, again, because he was told to. While outwardly, he is composed, inside, he is filling with steam borne of frustration, struggling to bring it under control. A highlight.
Slow Sift: Another shorter composition, I love how organic this one feels. I love the contrast of elements building to this delicate, almost time-keeping plucking. Watching an hourglass on hallucinogens, perhaps?
The Let Go: The second track featuring Cecelia Erholtz, and while again, her voice is one more layer of composition, the vocals are a little too muted for my liking. In terms of the track itself, elements of prog slip within the ambient feel, giving it an very expansive sort of feeling. Standing on a cliff on a windy day, looking down at nature… That sense of freedom and also caution…
Take Air: What a mindscrew this track is (in the enjoyable way)… I feel like I’ve fallen into an Aronofsky film for a few minutes as this one plays. There are moments of chilldown softness that veer sharply into this world that reminds of the brainwashing scene in Lost. A voice speaks of shadows and power as the controlled, familiar core is awash in piercing alarm. Really strong work.
Final Comments: Auger’s choice to perform everything live lends an organic feel to a genre that many find to be the complete opposite. The juxtaposition of that life and the ethereal worlds evoked makes for a powerful body of work. There is an ambiguity as well to his compositions, in that they seem open to one’s interpretations. Music to watch clouds to, to seek form within the formless to.
While I appreciated the new layers provided via Erholtz, I feel that Wet Eyes is stronger without vocals. I almost find them distracting. Spoken word blips like those in “Take Air” are a different story, and an avenue I’d love to wander further down with Auger’s direction.
Wet Eyes is one to watch, without question.
Highlights: Lemon Contrast; Settle Down; Take Air
Final Grade: A
You can check out the Wet Eyes bandcamp page, where you can sample and download tunes, as well as connect further via Facebook. Or you can be lazy and stream Air Is Movement below! However, you really should wander over the bandcamp, because Wet Eyes is working on a new album expected this winter and bookmarking the page is a wise move, indeed!