May 28, 2024

James Wolf — That

James Wolf - That - Cover art

James Wolf is out with his second LP under his given name and on the Verses Records roster. That is a complex, layered, and haunting instrumental composition consisting of three tracks and one instrument: A violin. Utilizing various effects–from wah-sounds to reverb to lush pad-like filters on loop–Wolf’s That picks the listener up, dropping them in an orchestral pit warm-up before medevacing them out on vibes as smooth and exhilarating as a flying carpet.

From soothing neo-classical sounds to aggressive stabs at the violin’s strings, That feels mature and conflicted.

Wolf says the mood of the album was influenced by the traumatic election of Donald Trump, which makes a lot of sense as he was featured on Verses Record’s ACLU benefit that released right around the inauguration. The album was also inspired by lunar activity.

“The election haunts [the songs], pretty much like anything anyone else did at the time,” said Wolf. “But more importantly, the moon does too. My composition process usually relies on a series of internal images which help me conceive of a piece sonically and emotionally, and help me judge during the two to three weeks that I work intensively on it whether it’s doing what it’s supposed to or not. For all three of these pieces, the moon was an important image – in it’s terrifying, comforting, and all other aspects. I don’t know why that was so important at this time, but there it is.”

That does have a distinct visual element, as mentioned. Check out his eerie video for the second track on the EP, Refuge. A gorgeous profile is swallowed by shifting shadows as subtle transitions reveal the moon and the bust of an ancient. Plato, perhaps? Check it here, then head on over to Bandcamp and buy an HD download or order a CD. Wolf, much like his sound, seems to be elusive. His label, though, is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Wolf also collaborated with Phoenix Auto Group on its just-released experimental doom EP, Enraptured, The Morning Star Rises.

About Jonathan Rose 45 Articles
Jonathan Rose studies journalism in Denver. He sometimes writes as Alibi Pierce.