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We Will Always Be

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Album Review

Michigan space drone sweethearts Windy & Carl began in the early '90s, bringing together glacial webs of processed guitars in extended tapestries of melting sound. We Will Always Be, their fifth full-length for Kranky, finds the band reaching a new peak in its already strong 18-years-and-counting trek of ambient explorations. The majority of the songs here found their beginnings as a collection of recordings Carl (Hultgren) worked on solo and presented to Windy (Weber) as a Valentine's Day gift. The two fleshed out these loving compositions to their fullest potential in collaboration, sculpting a record of innate beauty and constantly shifting environments. The gentle album opener "For Rosa" begins with quiet churning electronic noise, giving way to alarmingly clear acoustic guitar. These ringing chords are some of the least effected guitar sounds in Windy & Carl's history, and shortly reveal themselves as a backdrop for Weber's plaintive vocals. The vocals, too, are also more present in the mix than they've ever been, mirroring the soft sadness of Bridget St. John. The song's understated delivery and relatively brief duration of three minutes suggest it's just opening the door for the rest of the record. The last gurgles of mechanical fuzz drift seamlessly into "Remember," a spectral wash of buried bubbling electronics, stargazing guitar textures, and Weber's ether-thin vocals. The stormy "Nature of Memory" finds Windy's voice (relatively) front and center again, trading spoken verses and sweetly sincere laughter with a distorted version of herself as a wall of plucked bass notes and dour, gothy guitar tones grows behind her. The amount of patience and sensitivity to incremental change in Windy & Carl's sound is part of what makes it so special. It figures, then, that the two find their most beautiful moments in the liminal spaces of extended form pieces. The crushingly gorgeous "The Smell of Old Books" represents Windy & Carl at their best, shifting effortlessly from delayed guitar to sawtooth synth tones all beneath the wintery sheen of a few repeating electric piano notes. The eight-minute piece finds the duo progressing slowly and thoughtlessly from rumbling uncertainty to the unshackled weightlessness of resolution, freezing and thawing in a blurred stop-motion. We Will Always Be represents huge steps forward for Windy & Carl, besting even the emotional and sonic scope of 2008's critically lauded Songs for the Broken Hearted. Their long-term commitment to their craft has grown the duo into a space rock institution of foundational proportions. With this album, Windy & Carl are more controlled, focused, and confident than ever before, offering up their best work to date in an evolution that may just prove to be without limits.


Formed: 1991 in Dearborn, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A leading light in Michigan's space rock scene, Windy & Carl's atmospheric ambience was created by guitarist Carl Hultgren and bassist Windy Weber. Hultgren first began recording instrumental guitar drone pieces in 1992, when he self-released a cassette tape named Portal before teaming up with Weber. By the end of 1993, the duo had issued a single, "Watersong," on the musicians' own Blue Flea label. Once Dreamt appeared in 1995, as did a reissued version of Portal (complete with new material). Drawing...
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We Will Always Be, Windy & Carl
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