WREN KITZ "CHURNIN"
By Emily Allan
When I first met Wren Kitz, we were about 19 and working at an old hotel on an island. I thought Wren was cool and remember one time when he put on Jedi Mind Tricks while we were cleaning the hotel. There was also another time when I used his electric guitar without asking and it made my fingers bleed and there was blood all over his guitar. He was really chill about it even though I could tell he was kind of sad.
Skip ahead ten years. Wren recorded the album “CHURNIN” in Hinesburg, Vermont at last winter. This magical and dreamy set of recordings, recorded on reel-to-reel tape recorder in the span of just one month, has recently come out as a tape release on Hidden Temple Tapes out of Greenfield, MA.
I have to admit I slept on this album, which has been available to listen to since March on the Internet via Bandcamp. There’s no excuse for this, moving to the west coast notwithstanding. However, I am also grateful that I first heard the album in cassette form. This is just a really cool tape and listening to it, mostly in the car on night drives, has been a moving experience.
Let the sounds wash over you. There are so many layers of sound to choose from. The tape churns and churns, touching on and bringing up the deepest darkest sides buried inside of us- yet when these dark emotions surface there is the ghostly voice of reassurance that this is normal and everything's gonna be ok somehow.
“You’ve gotta listen and learn. You’ve got desire that burns,” sings the low, droll voice on “CHURNIN pt 2”. Throughout the tape, Wren alternates from singing in a low register to high, ghostly tones with an effect that is otherworldly.
Wren’s voice is sounding better than ever here. His solo singing voice has evolved hugely and is reaching a new level of strength and uniqueness. He’s also dialed in a really cool sound for the vocals. This sounds like an old banjo ghost from the 18th or 19th century sitting on a stump deep in the dark woods outside of an old drafty cabin. You can actually hear the wind blowing because those sounds are woven in too. The effect of the sounds mixed together here is at moments so vividly dark and creepy that I’ve gotten actual chills listening to this.
“Dancers made of dust” is just a really fucking good song and probably the breakout hit of this album. The first time I heard this song, on a tape my friend who plays drums with Wren mailed me of the two of them practicing it together for the first time, I cried. It sounded like a lost beat happening track that is actually newer and even better, being played by your friends and expressing all the angst of getting stuck in a summer rain. My favorite part of this song is when Wren, in a low, dry, tone, sings something that sounds like ‘I belong, under the east coast’…
This is likely not the actual exact lyric but when I hear this I get the feeling he is singing of being in a cold cave of rocks underneath the east coast. Thinking of this gives me a chilly and cozy feeling that is very comforting and seems to make life fall into place.
Sour melon is one of those songs that's perfect for a dark evening sitting on a foggy mountaintop in the rain, feeling cold and sad and ecstatically alive. It feels like the aloneness of being with other people. At the end of the song Wren’s voice actually turns into wind and blows away.
Wren’s songwriting just kills it on here. An album of really provocative found-sounds+ambient noise/cool music and REALLY good songs seems hard to come by but this has it- and this is an RPM album, written and recorded in just one month! Sheesh. There is some deep magic at work here.
This tape also carries with it the wind and biting chill of northern Vermont winter. The feeling of forlornness, snow, wood-stove fires, bare trees, making noise where there is darkness and silence …this music evokes all that with skill.
I would recommend this tape to anyone. There is real raw emotion infused into it. Keep your speakers salty with this project from an artful and dedicated new England soundsmith on the rise.
Wren’s vinyl release “For Evelyn”, has also just come out on Burlington label Section Sign Records. Like CHURNIN’ it is packed to the brim with thoughtful, deep-reaching and mind-bending sound textures and carefully constructed songs guaranteed to thrill and chill you to the bone. This album was a long time in the making and features many talented collaborators. A true labor of love, check it out!
SHORT ARTIST INTERVIEW WITH WREN KITZ
E: Who is the kid talking on "Can Anybody Talk to Scott?"
W: That's Scott. [the samples are taken from] tapes I found in the house we were renting for the winter of the home owners son when he was a little kid. He's in his 30s now I think. He would prob freak if he heard em.
E: What was going on at the time of recording?
W: I remember that time very vividly. CHURNIN was my first album recorded all to 1/4" tape, and with no other collaborators. I was also living in the freakin weirdest place ever...a winter rental from some rando old wealthy couple that goes to Florida in the winter. They had the weirdest stuff. And like, it was all still on the walls...fam portraits, weird art and pics from around the world....one room had a bunch of primitive weapons mounted on the walls...tribal masks.
All the mics I used to record I found in dusty boxes in their basement in big boxes marked "Scott's Mic's." A lot of the songs are about my big brother. Sleepy Snake is a break up song.
E: What albums were you listening to at the time of recording CHURNIN'?
W: Weed Forestin' by Sentridoh (Sebado), What Am I going to do with Everything I Know by the Weather Station, and Heaven by William Lawrence.