An inside joke can be much more gratifying than a room full of belly-busting guffaws. Musicians Daniel Provenzano and Kevin Nickles know three can be a crowd, and with their space-rock project Writhing Squares keeping things between them is more than enough to provide fertile ground for their most deranged proclivities to blast off unobstructed. Clocking in at over 70 minutes, the new double-album — and second for Chicago institution Trouble In Mind — Chart For The Solution is a triumph of tension and uncompromising propulsion.
On the duo’s 2019 album Out of the Ether, the Philly group mastered a balancing act between muscular Stooges riffs and spaced out interplay, courtesy of Provenzano’s ballsy, distorted Rickenbacker bass and Nickles’ piercing attack on the saxophone and flute. This time around, the band reels in the mix back from the red to allow each instrument to fall perfectly in place letting them surround you rather than rip through you like a cannonball.
The album is full of air tight rippers like pummeling “Ganymede” that sounds like what would happen if Dick Dale ever teamed up with the boys in Suicide for a tour of tiki bars in the Lower East Side. Both Provenzano and Nickles share vocal duty throughout, screaming their heads off through processed effects that sound like thoughts echoing against the walls of your skull.
The band really makes their mark with the album’s two centerpiece epics, the over-10-minute “Rogue Moon” and the 18 minute “The Pillars.” The two tracks are given the time deserved by Provenzano and Nickles to let their motorik grooves hypnotize like a paint can being mixed in slow-motion. On both, the band’s love of modular synths takes center stage recalling the nightmarish repetition of classic genre-film soundtracks as they swirl down the drain into hellish depths.
After a brief instrumental break, the album closes out with perhaps it’s biggest bombastic gesture on the aptly titled instrumental track “Epilogue.” It’s a well-deserved and masterful release as unshackled woodwinds and horns play off of an absolutely ferocious rhythm section.
On Charts For The Solution, Writhing Squares have waded through the data and presented their most pummeling and direct release to date. It’s up to you to rock accordingly.
Essential tracks: “Rogue Moon.” “The Pillars,” and “Ganymede”
Prerequisites: Suicide’s Suicide, The Stooges’ Fun House and Hawkwind’s Space Ritual