On “The Wink,” White Fence’s Tim Presley Proves A One-Man Band Can Still Have A Solo Album

artworks-000169196666-va5smn-t500x500-1

Tim Presley is an artist of such power, he has twice created work garnering Tulip Frenzy’s Album Of The Year honors.  Leading Darker My Love, a genuine band with, you know, multiple musicians recording songs, um, together, his Alive As You Are was a country rock gem, as meticulously crafted as an Hermes stirrup.  In 2014, For The Recently Found Innocent not only was the best album Presley’s “band” White Fence ever produced, but we’re pretty certain that when Tulip Frenzy looks back, in 2020, on the current decade, our team o’ plucky editors will have an easy time accepting its bid as the best rec since the Aughts.  All of which might lead a casual reader to believe that things are straightforward here — that Presley is a consistently great and major artist, a commodity as predictable as the Beatles in their prime.

That this isn’t the case is both a source of frustration and begins to get at the ritualistic magic of The Wink, Presley’s solo album, which came out one month ago.  The Wink is an astonishingly great album, the product of an eccentric genius with an oddball sensibility and a reverence for the artists he admires.  The title track sounds like it was ripped from a master tape of Bowie’s The Lodger — an homage to a dead hero in which Presley took the time to reverse engineer the best songs from Bowie’s best album.  A dozen bands before now have tried capturing the spare perfection of the first Gang of Four album, but on “Clue,” Presley’s the first artist I know of who has ever truly caught the interplay between Jon King’s vocals and Andy Gill’s guitar.

But of course, the major artist that Presley channels best on his solo album is Tim Presley, for we hear throughout the 12 songs here chord progressions and melodies spanning his career, from sideman in The Fall to collaborator with Ty Segall, not to mention leader of Darker My Love, White Fence, and Drinks, his 2015 album with Cate Le Bon.

For fans of White Fence, what is immediately apparent here is that The Wink is a great sounding album — that compared to those pre-2013 albums seemingly recorded in his bedroom, this one is a studio product with, dare we say it, high fidelity.  That it’s still recorded by a one-man band, or close to it (a few guests may have sat in, here and there), means it has the angular limitations of uneven musicianship; he might sound like Gang of Four, but the bass and drums don’t really have a bottom.  Performing as White Fence, it took the miraculous Live In San Francisco, recorded in 2013 with a killer backup band, to reveal to the world just how amazing were songs like “Swagger Vets and Double Moon,” which if you heard it only on Family Perfume, Parts 1 and 2, sounded like low-fi psychedelicacy, not the fully actualized, punk-steeped gem it became with a real band.  For The Recently Found Innocent, Ty Segall stepped in offering a kick on the bass drum and, we’d suggest, Presley’s ass, getting him to step up the sonic power of his noodling and produce a real album you could listen to on a real stereo, not a home recording you needed headphones and a lot of patience to enjoy.

The Wink is a real album, and it is great.  We can’t wait to hear it performed live, with a real band.  That it still doesn’t combine high fidelity with an in-studio band doesn’t mean we’re complaining.  Tim Presley continues to defy the world, taking leave from a one-man band and putting out a solo album.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: