God Of The Wild finds its greatest strength through confidence and dedication to its vision. Dead Waves are standard bearers for independent music.
For nearly every mood or event there seems to be music made to accompany it. That being said, don’t wait for an apocalypse before you listen to Dead Waves. God Of The Wild is an understated soundtrack to a cataclysm that may or may not have happened yet; that part is up to you. Their mix of indie rock attitude, downtempo melodies, and psychedelic introspection is a sonic harbinger of doom, but still manages to squeeze in some playful moments along the way. This record consists of ten songs where each is an intriguing facet of this diamond in the rough.
Opening the record with “Gabriella”, the duo employs guitar, bass, and dissonant vocals creating an eerie, hypnotic ambiance. The lack of drumming or percussion sort of kept me on the edge of my seat, as it felt like the song was just waiting for the right moment to bring them in, but never actually does. I’d later find that this was the case with nearly every song in the tracklist. There’s an air of apprehension that is pervasive throughout the entire record, underpinning the overall experience. The title track is mainly instrumental and includes guitar, flute, and bass all dancing around some unsettling vocalizations. It truly feels unhinged at times, and kept me on my toes.
Dead Waves are apt at skewing atmosphere in unexpected ways. After the unpredictable start with the first two songs, “Silver Pirouettes” begins with rhythmic bass and guitar, presenting itself as a pretty standard shoegaze song. After the vocals are introduced, the irony and dissonance return, putting me ill at ease once again. I like this playful and non-traditional approach. Many indie bands try this with varying degrees of success, but this act is fully committed to defying expectations and executing their vision. I think in the hands of less skillful artists, these songs and this iron-willed dedication to eccentricity would come off as disingenuous.
As the record goes on, off-kilter and experimental continue to be the keywords. “Innate” is somber and wistful, while “Ancient Love” is one of the more traditional songs among the ten presented to us. “Astrapi” (which is Greek for ‘lightning’) is perhaps the most complete song on God, at least in terms of what I expected. Its runtime is around three minutes, and there’s a cohesion to the vocals and instrumentation that hasn’t been there until now. I found it interesting in just how jarring this was in the context of the rest of the record. To be able to make a traditional song structure feel out of place within your own body of work is pretty remarkable.
God Of The Wild is an independent record to its very core, for better or worse, depending on one’s own reaction to its eccentricities. I found the album to be incredibly confident and sure of itself. Without this confidence, I think that it would have fallen flat on its face. However, Dead Waves knew this and fully committed to doing things their own way, each aspect of the record benefitting from this. That being said, this isn’t a drive-through-town-with-the-windows-down kind of indie rock record that you see in Ellen Paige movies. It doesn’t wear its independence as a badge; it simply exists whether we notice it or not. I’m glad I noticed it.