Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bedwetter - Flick Your Tongue Against Your Teeth And Describe The Present Review

In a series of unexpected twists, Travis Miller always has the last laugh. Now that's not exactly apropo given Miller's struggles with his mental health, but in his musical world, he pulls all the strings. Both entirely inconsistent and predictable, Miller, who has now set his sights on the pseudonym Bedwetter, just released volume one of what's presumed to be a multi-part series. With no warning, and no known existence of Flick Your Tongue Against Your Teeth And Describe The Present, Bedwetter made his mark on his followers by doing what Miller's always done; challenging them. Just like the music, which is increasingly tense and uneasy, Miller's marketing measures always aim to keep fans on edge. At any moment, like, let's say, a Sunday afternoon when this actually dropped, Miller could release a new single, a new album, a new message, or a new name. His fly by the seat of your pants mentality translates well, regrettably so, to his mental state, one that's constantly in flux, and painstakingly on display here. Flick Your Tongue doesn't have the monumental set pieces of Oblivion Access, nor does it have the fortitude, but Bedwetter's introductory LP sets a tone that's inherently personal, wobbling at the very thought of a mental collapse.

And for us humans, morbid curiosity is surely a thing. To outsiders, those not living within the confined walls of the album's cover, which is presumed to be a therapy room in a mental hospital, Bedwetter's dark past and hopeless future is a sight to behold. After all, Flick Your Tongue is art. We are merely here to take it in. How much, or how little, Miller embellishes the truth's of his psychotic unravelling's is of no value to us, as the true answer is how much we, as listeners, find it believable. Take Tyler, The Creator's Goblin era for example. The album's concept centers around a therapy session, culminating in the maddening 'Golden.' It's also unquestionably similar to Bedwetter's striking verse on 'Haze Of Interference,' where Miller fights with himself over previous failures. The difference lies in the context. On Goblin, Tyler and company rap comically on 'Bitch Suck Dick' just three songs before the grand finale, proving that all facets are a facade of a well-crafted character. Flick Your Tongue has no such outlets, choosing to leave that verse as it's last, despite the fact that over six minutes of an Ambient-led coma remain.

The justification of ambience is both Flick Your Tongue's best asset, and its worst outcome. As far as instilling fear, stress, and confusion to the room, the solemn grooves or peculiar vibes help to resonate more clearly the empty space between Bedwetter's routine breakdown's. Despite nine songs appearing, Miller himself only raps on four. Most of these pieces, like 'Haze Of Interference' of 'Stoop Lights,' have Ambient segues within themselves, and a quick calculation will prove that Miller's vocal presence attributes to roughly 37% of the entire LP. The air around him is meant to be equally, if not more, impactful. To me, I take it as the hospital's attempts to nullify his pain, either through sedatives, white noise, or religion. 'John' begins the album with a biblical verse, as if to try and get through to Bedwetter that his release can be found through God. Then there's 'Fondly Eulogizing Sleep' and 'Cave Yourself In,' two tracks caught on a loop inside a hazy mind. Finally, 'This In Not My Stomach' acts as the white noise, with unintelligible voices caught in the static. These are all beautifully rendered interludes, but unfortunately amount to little in regards to musical enjoyment. Which, of course, Bedwetter couldn't care less about, but it still is a factor.

Despite how intriguing it is, Flick Your Tongue's odd structural influxes hurt the project overall. As mentioned before, two short instrumental pieces close out the album. But more than that, Flick Your Tongue actually struggles to get over it's mid-album hurdle. Whilst 'Fondly Eulogizing Sleep' is sublime in sound, the repetition and length cause the meaning to diminish. Follow-up 'Branch' does not help matters, once again, using repetition as a crux, finding Bedwetter parroting a phrase ad nauseam. And finally, 'Square Movement' is just bad and entirely unnecessary. Not only is it one of Miller's worst beats, barely eclipsing uninspired Soundcloud tedium, the instrumental doesn't pretend to fit into Flick Your Tongue's overall concept. These three, with each passing moment being worst than the last, is made even more so by just how well the album begins. 'Man Wearing A Helmet' and lead single 'Stoop Lights' are incredible. The former is a riveting tale of a kidnapping where the adductor begs, internally, to return to his childhood innocence. Heartbreaking, tragic, and evil, 'Man Wearing A Helmet' works musically as well, incorporating a vicious beat drop that finds Bedwetter struggling to find his memory.

While it was the lead single, 'Stoop Lights' may still be the most well rounded track here though. While it takes a step back from the twisted hellscapes presented elsewhere, the standout finds Bedwetter antagonizing, and being embarrassed, over his blatant alcoholism. The atmospheric production and strong hook, which is one of Miller's best, helps to make 'Stoop Lights' successful both conceptually and musically. However, I return to 'Haze Of Interference' for further enlightenment. Clearly Bedwetter's pinnacle of destruction here, the devastating verse takes on a new light once the lingering vocal sample underneath is unearthed. Now, I won't pretend to have listened to Jandek's gargantuan collection of albums, but I know the mysterious man's story. Fitting Bedwetter's narrative, the sample of 'What Did I Hear' might be Miller's most prudent ever. Why? Well, Jandek's lifestyle bears striking resemblance to Miller. His concentrated lack of fame, ever-evolving styles, and intensely personal tales despite existing inside an enigma, Jandek and Miller go hand-in-hand. His inclusion on 'Haze Of Interference' only serves as another reminder to Miller's baffling mental state. And while Flick Your Tongue struggles to find a proper balance, there's no denying the impact this album will have on you. Intrigue for the Bedwetter conundrum has only just begun.

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