Withered Industrial, Post-Industrial Sidekick Wave The history of Sidekick Wave is one of simplicity. It's the project of a traveling musician, yoga and meditation teacher, and poet David Miller. Through this post-industrial medium, Miller has released various singles, EPs, and compilation tracks throughout his career. Thus enters "Withered", the debut album from Sidekick Wave. Miller beckons forth the powers of when industrial was new and less defined; the experimental age, so to speak. Thus Sidekick Wave dives into dark ambient tones as much as he does the raw power of post-punk. The description on Bandcamp lists a who's who of influential industrial producers from the likes of Psychic TV to Skinny Puppy and even so recently as Youth Code. Thankfully, Sidekick Wave's debut doesn't go so far back into the history of the genre to be borderline inaccessible a la the days of early Throbbing Gristle. Instead, we're given a rugged and experimental lesson in cold electronics and synthesizers. The song that kicks off the album is 'Life Cycle (Not Enough)'. Backed by guitar strings almost acting like drones and meticulous drum work, the beat isn't necessarily steady but well-crafted, weird, and lucid. What I am not a huge fan of, however, are the spoken word vocals. When they do come out, they dominate the mix burying the instrumentation. The lack of tone to match the rhythm of the track is lackluster in them as well; I would have much preferred this song to be an instrumental than not. This is fixed in the title track, 'Wither'. For the first minute-and-ten seconds, there's a light electronic bassline alongside whirring electronics and displaced samples. However, the gritty spoken word slightly reflected matched the energy the song gives, never overtaking one another; like all things, harmony is key and Sidekick Wave nails it here. However, the rest of the track is an almighty amalgamation of experimental noise. While most of it is tolerable at best, there's a trumpet like sound that spat between my left and right headphones and speakers that was annoying at best and made me want to skip the track. The dreadful vocals that come at the end of the album didn't help it out at all, either. Withered by Sidekick WaveHowever, though I am not a fan of the first two tracks, that doesn't mean I hate the rest of "Withered". The song 'Rise in Spirals' is the first on the album that took me by surprise. Like many of Sidekick Wave's songs before and after it, there's a lot to take in; generally speaking, there's a tribal like drum-beat and an ear filling ambiance throughout the track. It's a dense ride through experimental tones. The main aspect of this track that bothered me the most is the fact that the vocals only seemed to come through on the right sight of my headphones / speakers. While it never bothers me at first, after hitting the three-minute mark of the five-and-a-half minute song it did get on my nerves. 'Clean Streets / Dirty Heart' is the first song on the album that I fell completely in love with. Almost harkening to old school electro-industrial, the dirty tones it played with paired with the sci-fi like experimental electronics had me in awe. The following instrumental track, 'Gradient Blur', is a wonderful and mesmerizing piece that sticks with electro-industrial and some great, backing jazz music. The trumpet never sounded so good within an industrial piece. As much as I enjoyed the chill structure on 'Outside the Circles of Time', I always felt as if it were meant to lead to something greater, as if it were the intro to a song stretched out for five-minutes. For the most part, 'Basement Ritual (pt. 1&2)' is a very, very standard dark ambient / drone track. Walls of light noise and a few drones make up the majority of the first three minutes. The texture work is hidden underneath that base, and do my ears ever strain to hear the delicacies found within. It's not until those three-minutes pass that I find myself staring at an interesting piece filled with drum work, gritty guitar, and experimental brute. While I enjoy this section of the song, getting to it is a bit painful. The final song is a last measure of chill experimental electronics. Not heavy as some of the other tracks, but equally paced in both rhythm and noise. The spoken word lyrics on the album fit well. Overall, it's a decent piece, but the bravado behind it is lackluster. "Withered" is a tough album to get through, I can tell you that much. The main issue is that Sidekick Wave shows peaks of brilliance throughout the album; on more than one occasion I found myself getting into tracks such as 'Wither', 'Rise in Spirals', or 'Outside the Circles of Time'. However, every time I began to ascend to a musical Nirvana with those songs I was reminded of the one jarring error that each of them had; 'Wither' with its undeniably annoying experimental sounds; the one sided vocals on 'Rise in Spirals', and the general going-nowhere attitude of 'Outside the Circles of Time'. When Sidekick Wave hits, however, they hit hard; 'Clean Streets / Dirty Heart' and 'Gradient Blur' are phenomenal pieces of music. But, the fact remains that every other song on the album is unreliable at best. Should Sidekick Wave fix these issues, then I'm sure they'd crank out a masterpiece. However, this is not that. Five-and-a-half out of ten. This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page. 350
Brutal Resonance

Sidekick Wave - Withered

5.5
"Mediocre"
Released 2021 by nostalgia de la boue
The history of Sidekick Wave is one of simplicity. It's the project of a traveling musician, yoga and meditation teacher, and poet David Miller. Through this post-industrial medium, Miller has released various singles, EPs, and compilation tracks throughout his career. Thus enters "Withered", the debut album from Sidekick Wave. Miller beckons forth the powers of when industrial was new and less defined; the experimental age, so to speak. Thus Sidekick Wave dives into dark ambient tones as much as he does the raw power of post-punk. The description on Bandcamp lists a who's who of influential industrial producers from the likes of Psychic TV to Skinny Puppy and even so recently as Youth Code. Thankfully, Sidekick Wave's debut doesn't go so far back into the history of the genre to be borderline inaccessible a la the days of early Throbbing Gristle. Instead, we're given a rugged and experimental lesson in cold electronics and synthesizers. 

The song that kicks off the album is 'Life Cycle (Not Enough)'. Backed by guitar strings almost acting like drones and meticulous drum work, the beat isn't necessarily steady but well-crafted, weird, and lucid. What I am not a huge fan of, however, are the spoken word vocals. When they do come out, they dominate the mix burying the instrumentation. The lack of tone to match the rhythm of the track is lackluster in them as well; I would have much preferred this song to be an instrumental than not. 

This is fixed in the title track, 'Wither'. For the first minute-and-ten seconds, there's a light electronic bassline alongside whirring electronics and displaced samples. However, the gritty spoken word slightly reflected matched the energy the song gives, never overtaking one another; like all things, harmony is key and Sidekick Wave nails it here. However, the rest of the track is an almighty amalgamation of experimental noise. While most of it is tolerable at best, there's a trumpet like sound that spat between my left and right headphones and speakers that was annoying at best and made me want to skip the track. The dreadful vocals that come at the end of the album didn't help it out at all, either. 



However, though I am not a fan of the first two tracks, that doesn't mean I hate the rest of "Withered". The song 'Rise in Spirals' is the first on the album that took me by surprise. Like many of Sidekick Wave's songs before and after it, there's a lot to take in; generally speaking, there's a tribal like drum-beat and an ear filling ambiance throughout the track. It's a dense ride through experimental tones. The main aspect of this track that bothered me the most is the fact that the vocals only seemed to come through on the right sight of my headphones / speakers. While it never bothers me at first, after hitting the three-minute mark of the five-and-a-half minute song it did get on my nerves. 

'Clean Streets / Dirty Heart' is the first song on the album that I fell completely in love with. Almost harkening to old school electro-industrial, the dirty tones it played with paired with the sci-fi like experimental electronics had me in awe. The following instrumental track, 'Gradient Blur', is a wonderful and mesmerizing piece that sticks with electro-industrial and some great, backing jazz music. The trumpet never sounded so good within an industrial piece. As much as I enjoyed the chill structure on 'Outside the Circles of Time', I always felt as if it were meant to lead to something greater, as if it were the intro to a song stretched out for five-minutes. 

For the most part, 'Basement Ritual (pt. 1&2)' is a very, very standard dark ambient / drone track. Walls of light noise and a few drones make up the majority of the first three minutes. The texture work is hidden underneath that base, and do my ears ever strain to hear the delicacies found within. It's not until those three-minutes pass that I find myself staring at an interesting piece filled with drum work, gritty guitar, and experimental brute. While I enjoy this section of the song, getting to it is a bit painful. The final song is a last measure of chill experimental electronics. Not heavy as some of the other tracks, but equally paced in both rhythm and noise. The spoken word lyrics on the album fit well. Overall, it's a decent piece, but the bravado behind it is lackluster. 

"Withered" is a tough album to get through, I can tell you that much. The main issue is that Sidekick Wave shows peaks of brilliance throughout the album; on more than one occasion I found myself getting into tracks such as 'Wither', 'Rise in Spirals', or 'Outside the Circles of Time'. However, every time I began to ascend to a musical Nirvana with those songs I was reminded of the one jarring error that each of them had; 'Wither' with its undeniably annoying experimental sounds; the one sided vocals on 'Rise in Spirals', and the general going-nowhere attitude of 'Outside the Circles of Time'. When Sidekick Wave hits, however, they hit hard; 'Clean Streets / Dirty Heart' and 'Gradient Blur' are phenomenal pieces of music. But, the fact remains that every other song on the album is unreliable at best. Should Sidekick Wave fix these issues, then I'm sure they'd crank out a masterpiece. However, this is not that. Five-and-a-half out of ten. 

This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.
Oct 04 2021

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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