Baja Wolfhour

[Other Electricities; 2008]

Styles: omnivorous collage
Others: Four Tet, Berg Sans Nipple, Nathan Michel, e jugend

Baja’s Daniel Vujanic is a prolific, thoughtful artist with very strong opinions about the value of craftsmanship and intentionality. Each time I have listened to one of his releases, his belief in these qualities seems to cartwheel through the headphones. 2007’s Maps/Systemalheur was a perplexing joyride through assiduously produced landscapes. Last summer saw the release of Last Exit Wedding, his latest work as part of duo ejugend. That recording also evinced a lovingly rendered sonic wanderlust. Vujanic’s newest effort Wolfhour roams with similar precision through a laundry list of genres (drone, jazz, post-rock, minimal techno) that fails to encapsulate the cohesive, sculpted identity of the music.

Wolfhour boasts some of the most unabashedly pretty electroacoustic sounds I’ve heard, yet I wouldn’t call it pop – I always have the sense that Vujanic is more interested in exploring the elasticity of boundaries than in gunning for pleasure centers. He’s got a knack for phrasing and suspense that’s rare in music with this sonic palette. He avoids both spastic prefuse-style editing and traditional song structures. Instead, he gives ample space to layered guitar patterns and the swelling, skittering atmospheric elements that surround them. Maps/Systemalheur was conceived as a series of lengthy suites; I think this remains the best structural model for Vujanic’s music, which evolves in movements rather than verses or tracks. Steely Dan and King Crimson are both reference points; the former for Vujanic’s choice of sumptuous guitar tone and the latter for his compositional ambition.

A record like this, one that darts in multiple directions while somehow remaining coherent, is the sign of a truly robust imagination. Some people have dreams of stick figures; some dream feature films. Vujanic falls in the latter category, but his music is too unpredictable to suffer the “cinematic” label. Visionary is too pompous a term for him; he’s as much artisan as artist. Subtle ideas, studied patience, and clever, unobtrusive production make his twisting musical pathways both urgent and inviting.

Most Read