Title - 'Hypatia'
Artist - WRAY
For those not in the know, newcomers WRAY hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, and trust me when I say that this highly inventive trio are bringing a lot of attention their way with their powerful, thought-provoking music.
Comprised of band members David Brown, Blake Wimberly and David Swatzell, WRAY released their self-titled debut album in July 2014 via Birmingham-based label, Communicating Vessels, and have used that very same company for their sophomore follow-up, Hypatia.
Listening to the trance-state bass line styles of some of these songs, especially the opener 'Below' and 'Diamond Gym,' this quite incredible album also has some poppier cuts/ Tracks like the actual title song, 'Hypatia' and 'Shiva' stand out there, whereas the dense '+' may only be 49 seconds long, but packs a punch also.
The indie sounds of the 90's are brought back throughout, that's for sure, but more so on cuts such as 'May 23rd,' The Cure-esque 'Regular,' and 'Shiva.' Hypatia (which takes its name from a forum for cutting edge work in feminist philosophy) also bats heavier sonic moments also, especially on such tracks as both 'Giant' and 'Dymaxion Dream.'
Listening to the follow up album, it's obvious that WRAY have spent the past year or more developing the ideas and sonic palette that would become this, their sophomore album. Co-produced by the band with Lynn Bridges (Devendra Banhart, Dan Sartain) and mixed by Daniel Farris (Man or Astroman?, St. Vincent), Hypatia takes its own path from swift energy to quiet contemplation while exploring a space of subtle contrasts and originality.
In closing, once you have listened to this album there is no way you cannot simply hit play again, as it is a very addictive collection of 12 tracks. No so-called stand out tracks abound, sure, but that just means the entire album, as a whole, is one divinely beautiful act of musical storytelling. From the very first track to the very last, the group's triangulated presence is in full force, and is is hard to imagine that this wasn't recorded back in the late 80's/early 90's by a Goth band trying to lighten their previously darker offerings.
WRAY are a progressive trio of guys playing music, hailing from out of the Deep South and with a brilliantly conceived album art by New Zealand-born/New York-based Tamaryn, and Shaun Durkan, from San Franciscos Weekend combined, well, if you miss out on owning this new album you will have missed out on one of the albums of 2016.