“I guess air comes in many forms,” says indie artist and Chicago-based social activist Xoë Wise of her new album Air, co-produced with multi-instrumentalist, Minterm. One of the forms it comes in is magnificent – a tour de force of mind-altering, dream-inducing sonic creations twinkling with real life. Each song is a faceted jewel of sound, swirling around your ears and your mind, embedding itself in your pleasure zones.
“Air is important for me as a living creature. People need to breathe in order to think and stay happy, but on this record I realized that this also meant letting love in”, she says.
The title song sets the tone for the love that will be poured into your ears when you play Air. Soft background beat, melodious guitars, her magic voice overdubbed to sound slightly ethereal but very personal. You are flying with her through a rainbow, the rings of Saturn, the happy parts of her life – the parts that are full of love.
The love continues in “Clouds” but with a little bit of urgency and intricate, understated guitar riffs subtly accenting her lyrics. “Easy Breezy” follows and flows with a soft but compelling vocal rhythm, Xoë ’s voice slightly echoed, like she is coming to you through mist, shining and yet a bit distant. “Blanking” picks up the pace and urgency in her voce, and adds layers of guitars and dubs, but ever so lightly.
As you come down – or back, as the case may be – from “Blanking”, she hooks you with a simple guitar intro on “Cross-Eyed Rose” then reels you in with lyrics and vocals that tighten your gut despite their gentleness. Then she switches up with “Park too Close” and “Bad Idea”, bringing in more percussion, but always with haunting, gentle personal-to-you vocals that lay on top of the drums like etching on a sheet of glass.
“Madison” and “Blue Wall” pull us back out into orbit, watching the constellations and stellar dust clouds float by on impossible beautiful vocals and an comet’s tail of guitar notes. “Holiday” continues the voyage with a slow beat with big guitar notes, simple piano strokes, and her voice and overdubs talking to you in your ear. Wrapping up the album with “Late Parade” she comes back down to earth and faces you directly in the verses, while shimmering in the chorus as she builds up and then comes back down to earth to cup your ear in her hand while she breaths love into you.
If you are familiar with Xoë Wise from “Comes and Goes – Imaginary Future” or “Fade Into You” from her 2011 album Archive of Illusions or “Cannibal”from her 2015 album Racecar Orgasm:Foreplay, she has expanded, gone deeper and higher in Air and adds a new quality – she manages to be close and intimate while orbiting a distant star. Simply put, with the release of Air, I can only say that Xoë Wise a genius of music.
Air by Xoë Wise. Produced by Xoë Wise and Minterm.
Air release July 31, 2020. Available on Spotify and Bandcamp , CD’s and vinyl available at https://www.xoewisemusic.com/ .