Wilt – Radio 1940

It is not a modest release, this “Radio 1940”, the fourth album by Wilt. A double cd with 122 minutes of music. Packaged in a luxuriously looking digipack, with great graphics by Ben Didier. And furthermore a distinct concept: “Radio 1940” strives to recreate a feeling of the 1940’s. Sources of inspiration for mastermind James Keeler were the literature, architecture, design and history of that period. The end result is not a political or cultural statement. It’s more like a ‘dusty photo album of this period’, which is also reflected in the artwork. Of course there are more acts out there that try to recreate the feeling of that period. Les Joyaux de la Princesse for example. But this project uses recognizable speeches, chansons and other sound sources of that period. Wilt though follows a more abstract path, using modern electronics and acoustic experiments to evoke a certain mood, a sonic collage.

The number of used materials by James P. Keeler is enormous. To name but a few: ‘AM radio noise, feather, metal objects, glass, bed springs, rock, handheld cassette recorder, broken records’. But these are not sounds for the sake of just creating as many sounds as possible. They are forced into an organic collage. Electronic and acoustic sounds are mixed, as well as ambient and noisy pieces. Parts of it can be described as ‘musique concrete’, with found sounds distorted to create music.

‘Radio tower’ sets the mood with a lot of radio noise. ‘Depression modern’ has a great atmosphere, with deep drones. ‘Pale Skin memoirs’ is another highlight on disc 1, with an almost serene mood. Of course the mood is often grim and bleak. There is a war going on! But variation is a keyword here, in sound and mood. I find it really hard to describe individual tracks. Not all of them are interesting on their own. But together they form a worthwile collage, a fascinating trip. Perhaps I would not directly think of the 1940’s when I listend to these discs without foreknowledge. But with help of the artwork and by reading a novel of that time, I would get in the right mood. Wilt and Ad Noiseam can be proud of this ambitious release!

artist: Wilt
label: Ad Noiseam
details: 2cd, 122 minutes