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Daryl Way's Wolf: Night Music (remaster)

The scarcest of the three Wolf albums, Night Music is finally remastered and reissued along with its litter mates. For those who did not follow the sometimes tortured path of rock-bands-with-violins (re: High Tide, Curved Air, et al.) Wolf was one of those niche bands, appealing to the minority that thought adding an electric violin to a rock format was more than a great idea, and further appealing to the even smaller minority that preferred instrumental work to "songs". And that difference, between the instrumental and vocal, is the compromise which erodes the impact of Night Music. Following two albums that offered flashes of intensity and some fine instrumental stretches, blistering violin work and well-conceived interaction among instruments with a minimum of marginal singing and frankly silly lyrics, the pressures of commerce seemingly dictated a need for more familiar forms. Always a mistake since the word "familiar" already contains the implication that there's already plenty of whatever that is available.

Night Music is mostly form without too much substance, expressive only of the imperative: Sing to Survive. The writing and playing are deliberate and informed, setting off across some engaging tracks of bass/drum exchanges, some tasteful bars of violin or guitar and a sensible overreliance on fade outs. But mostly the music lacks those stylistic charges that offer presence: despite a distinct instrumental line-up the music itself is not distinctive enough.

With Night Music, Way sets aside what is and was unique about Wolf, trades up to John Hodkinson the former IF vocalist and produces an odd hash of fusion / prog songs. Amid the above average playing there are also a few stand-out moments that suspend the period obsessions with fast bass lines and even faster drumming, instead falling gently backwards into some purely timbral suspensions, padding a few transits with lush near-silence and discretely distant trills. There are also some intimations at work here that seem genuinely promising, foreshadowing the more success stylistic grafts that became rooted in the first two Bill Bruford solos: the more complex and jazz-inflected Feels Good to Me and One of a Kind could owe a little something to this record. Unlike those Bruford works, Wolf is not nearly as refined in their composition or execution and, sadly, also like those two Bruford releases (and despite the change at vocalist) the singing remains an often awkward and flat applique stitched upon some undeniably well-woven instrumental strands. Perhaps due to the changes brought about by commercial concerns, Night Music avoids the more confident and distinctive performances of the preceding Canis Lupus and Saturation Point in favor of becoming another cautionary tale concerning artistic compromise. And another interesting enough reissue, but most likely for completists only.

Track Listing
01) The Envoy
02) Black September
03) Flat 2/55
04) Anteros
05) We're Watching You
06) Steal the World
07) Comrade of the Nine

Added: July 24th 2008
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: Daryl Way at Wikipedia
Hits: 2856
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Daryl Way's Wolf: Night Music (remaster)
Posted by S.D. Joe on 2021-04-20 23:21:04
My Score:

Could not disagree more; any dyed-in-the-wool fan of CANIS LUPUS or SATURATION POINT - or 70s-era prog rock for that matter - will thoroughly enjoy NIGHT MUSIC.

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