One of the largest trends I’ve seen among musicians these days is the rejection of a clear-cut genre. Neat categories of rock, pop, punk, and so on aren’t just rare, they’ve become a little boring. But shades of South American samba complementing a carnival-meets-industrial ambiance? That’s a pairing that’ll pique your interest, courtesy of musical chameleon Tim Presley himself. The track I’m speaking of in particular, "Brazilian Worm Band," sits dead-center on Presley’s latest album—a double LP he devised as W-X, his solo alter-ego.
W-X is Presley’s most recent side project from White Fence, his lo-fi garage-psych outfit, for which he’s been best known. He’s also embarked on a duo venture with Welsh singer Cate Le Bon, called Drinks, and collaborated with Ty Segall a few years before that (placing him in…you guessed it, folks! Southern California, where all garage rock roads lead to Segall, their king). Needless to say, Presley’s been busy making music in a wide variety of styles, and W-X may be the most unique thus far.
As a casual web search will tell you, “weird” has been the buzzword around this new release. Of the album’s twenty tracks, many are purely instrumental, an eclectic assortment of krautrock (in the vein of Faust), post-punk, fuzzy amps, and warbled pitches. Then, there are tracks like “Moment,” which do feature Presley’s far-off vocals, somewhere between singing and speaking, with a steady guitar-picking backbone that feels reminiscent of Cat Stevens (who knew all these musical qualities could have the same home?).
W-X is an album that’s as jam-packed and chaotic as its cover art (which was also designed by Presley, a true auteur), which makes the calmer, relatively sparse tracks like “Moment” stand out. Over the course of the song Presley repeats, “Thought I was the easy one,” between deadpan bridges of “I think I may be sleepwalking / I want to touch you / I want to touch your living dream.” The song then goes off into quick, hollow percussion interludes, and high-flying, trippy beats, making this kind of dream sequence feel sweetly strange.
Then there’s the album’s first single, “Clean it Glen,” which also utilizes repetition throughout. The song’s title is chanted over a haze of distorted guitar and an electronic, space-age kind of ambiance. Of all the genres that fuel Presley’s tracks, “Clean it Glen” is definitely a predominantly punk banger, maybe riding a wave of nostalgia from his youth (Presley started out in the hardcore punk band The Nerve Agents).
When speaking of his latest album, Presley told Noisey that W-X is “basically a compilation of therapeutic sound bites.” It was never intended for release, just an outlet to sort through the chaos of his mind. In the end, it became an album both fresh and experimental, presented for us to navigate as if walking through the funhouse of Presley’s mind. It doesn't make sense, but it doesn't have to.