Peter Wolf Crier, Garden of Arms

Rachael Maddux

By Rachael Maddux

on 09.07.11 in Reviews

The first Peter Wolf Crier record, 2010′s Inter-Be, was the result of Peter Pisano drafting up some sparse little vocal-and-guitar tracks and floating them by pal Brian Moen, who happily added layers of ramshackle percussion and dithering, dreamy synths and organ bleats. The mere presence of a dude with an acoustic guitar and the scantest, peaty whiff of home recording was enough to get the Minneapolitan duo tagged as “neo-folkies,” but like the once-similarly-pegged Justin Vernon, Peter Wolf Crier throws a curveball on their second LP. Garden of Arms sounds like another band entirely. Moen’s contributions are no longer just beats and clinks and fills dropped into Pisano’s arrangement; now they all but rule the tracks, which start bare and build steadily upward and outward, organ thrums and cymbal rattles looped and layered one upon another into swirling, quivering mounds.

Spinning out from the beats and clinks of their debut

Pisano’s vocals are sometimes backed up by Moen and other times double on themselves to create an eerie hall-of-mirrors effect; while his lyrics still seem of some import, they now dissolve into plaintive, almost childlike yawps and incantatory repetitions, occasionally disappearing into the soundscape altogether. Through it all, though, Pisano and Moen seem utterly focused, like they’ve mapped out each song well in advance so as to maximize their potential as epic soundtracks. This lends the album dramatic tension, but also can give the songs a clipped-wing effect — where would they end up if allowed to ramble a little further out of bounds? It seems likely Peter Wolf Crier will answer this question as they continue on with their grand ramble.