[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
One never knows what they’ll get when they just blindly investigate a name they’ve heard about for years. This is my first time actually hearing David Wenngrenn’s project Library Tapes and it’s quite an interesting collection he’s put together here.
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, well he’s made his. “Sketches, Outtakes and Rarities” is precisely what it says it is, nothing more nothing less. These are the discarded compositions and fallen soldiers who did not make the cut for any of his albums or singles, they are lost children in a way. Deliberately flawed. His assortment of musical explorations on this rather short outing are vividly remarkable in how well they flow together. Even the ones with obvious mistakes glaring at you are a delight to listen to. This is his “Gold is the Metal”, a motley group of misfits who wouldn’t play nicely with everybody else and so they wound up here.
Perhaps Switzerland’s Ozymandias is a kindred spirit, as both feature the piano prominently in what they do. What differentiates Wenngrenn’s works are the abrasive accents he places at random points in them. Sometimes it’ll be a quickly descending conjuration of bells or shortwave feedback at the end of a divinely melodic progression; don’t be lulled into smug complacency by what I’m jotting down… he pulls the plug on his charming little darlings in a very abrupt manner. You might think it’s going somewhere but it already did. Play it through once more and try again.
Personally, I’m pretty taken with just these small morsels and really am curious what his recent solo album sounds like. Again, there are points on this release where it seems as though the scales are going to crash into one another. He overlays his melodies in such a way that the listener is left frantically trying to follow all of them at once, and in this miasma of bludgeoned serenity a certain feeling is definitely achieved. The long-forgotten LA outfit The Moscow Coup Attempt is another reference point to mention because he also imbues his music with a dusty, archival feel. Now perhaps it’s just this album which features this but I’ve a suspicion that it isn’t and that this contemplative facet is a vein which runs through everything he does.
Overall, I’m quite pleased to have entered this fellow’s world. It’s a mysterious yet somehow endearing place, one I plan to visit again very soon.