June 3, 2005
US CD Brainwashed HAND001
Released in a limited edition of 500 letterpress sleeves, handmade by Michael Babcock of Interrobang Letterpress.
12/12 Windy + Carl's return comes as a very welcome surprise. I assumed Consiousness would be their swan song, which was quickly reinforced by an exhaustive, 3-CD set of singles, rarities and previously unreleased tracks. By the time a band gets around to issuing a set like this, you usually don't end up finding them back on their feet, pushing for new ground.
During their 4-year hiatus, their beloved dog Flea (half of the namesake of their imprint, Blue Flea) died, and Windy + Carl have released this small edition of mini-albums as a tribute. As the first in the new Brainwashed Handmade series, it bodes well for the aesthetic of future releases, not to mention placing the bar very high for the musical content of the series.
Windy + Carl's gauzy palette is as intoxicating and gorgeous as ever. On "Ode to a Dog," there's a crystalline quality to some of the guitar work that adds a previously unmatched vibrance to their well developed vibe. Carl somehow balances two opposing qualities: distinct, rolling tone patterns, and dense, burrowing drone fuzz. The guitars are 3-D, rendered in immaculate detail.
In keeping with the theme of the release, a recording of Flea is included on "Sketch for Flea," as an added texture to the gentle sonic tide. The inclusion of this recording is done very well, as it oftentimes blends in well enough to sound like something altogether different. At several points, Flea's panting could be easily be mistaken for scraping wood. This kind of "gimmick" in a song generally turns me off very quickly. This is done with such a delicate touch and sincerity that it works wonderfully. This mini-album will certainly prove to be among my favorites of their catalog (Antarctica, Depths, and Drawing of Sound).
In the current drone scene, terrestrial vibes rule. Be it Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice, Kemialliset Ystavat, Skaters or Anthony Milton (for random example), they all share a photocopy-of-a-photocopy aesthetic, grainy, rough and colored in extreme contrast. Windy + Carl's return amid this fervor casts their music in even starker contrast than when they were placed amid bands like Fuxa, Transient Waves, Bowery Electric, etc. That they've outlasted all of those, and have maintained such a forward-thinking view of their music is nothing short of astounding.
This is already sold out at the source, so move fast if you want to catch a copy from stores and distributors! - Dick Baldwin, Fake Jazz
No, Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren don't share a perverse affection for a certain bass funkateer who occasionally performs wearing nothing but a sock on his Johnson. They do, however, clearly miss their deceased dog Flea (1990-2005) and have devised a rather imaginative way to memorialize him. The album is not only the first new release from Windy & Carl since 2001's Consciousness (Kranky) but also the first outing in Brainwashed's Handmade Series, designed to package artists' radio sessions, live performances, and mini-albums in special letterpress sleeves prepared by Michael Babcock. Featuring two tracks of about nineteen minutes each in duration, Dedications to Flea falls into the mini-album category. Constructed from multi-layered filigrees of delicate guitar strums, iOde to a Dogi exudes a peaceful, heavenly ambiance that's rather affecting, given the presumed intensity of feeling the two have for their departed companion. Though neither a drone nor ambient piece, the track suggests both as it softly unfurls like clouds slowly drifting across the sky. Given that taped sounds by Flea were incorporated into the album's pieces, one wonders if the faint rustling noises rippling through the background might be him. No such uncertainty applies to the darker and more drone-like iSketch for Fleai where the dog's heavy panting, barking, and scuffling noises stand out against the stormy guitar blur. - Ron Schepper, Textura
As time goes on and the MP3 begins to remove the need and impetus for packaging and presentation its nice to see Brainwashed buck the trend with a series of (if this release is anything to go by) striking handset and folded sleeves. This black letter press sleeve with silver print holds a two track EP tribute to Windy & Carlis recently deceased dog Flea. At nearly twenty minutes long each both iSketch for Fleai and iOde to a Dogi follow an intertwining analogue path of lightly processed and pealing guitars. There are definite patterns and returning figures within the atmospheric shifts managing to sound both insubstantially crystalline yet full and warm. - Scott McKeating, Stylus
Dedications to Flea -- an EP recorded to commemorate the passing of the couple's dog, not the Chili Peppers member (and you thought you were finally going to learn what slap bass sounds like in the existential void!) -- sports the collection's best track, "Ode to a Dog". Windy and Carl can't seem to decide whether they want to return to their jangly pop roots or to go off the deep end into an eternal drone; they show signs of drifting toward one extreme, but always quickly recoil into placid middle ground. Ben Lee wasn't just playing '90s slacker dude when he sang "A lot goes on, but nothing happens" -- he was predicting this piece of sublime ambiguity. "Sketch for Flea" is less successful; it's a collection of recordings of Flea, embellished with light strains of melody, but it's more remarkable for its sentiment than its sonics. Michigan space-rock lovers will undoubtedly rejoice at Windy and Carl's return to the fold, and after a five year wait, even "The Eternal Struggle" is a welcome opportunity to renew the relationship. Hopefully the ambling dreamscaping will end as the couple gets back in the habit of recording, and they'll treat us to more subtle tensions in the future. - Phillip Buchan, Splendid.
Dedications To Flea is filled with sentiment, the inner sleeve outlining its origin as a project; the sounds represent a sort of audiological eulogy of sorts, a dedication to the life of their friend and dog, Flea, who passed away last year. Flea's life is recounted in a story written by Windy, and its sweet melancholy is in itself enough to inspire some well-overdue welling, the sounds themselves more important as a sentimental journey than a musical one. - Steve Phillips, The Program
After a pronounced hiatus, Windy & Carl decide to break their silence with a mini-album tribute to their dearly departed dog. Like everything this duo records the two tracks on offer here are a study in meditative stillness, ethereal embraces frozen in time. Only archival recordings of the recently deceased, which make cameos throughout, provide the slightest hint of agitation and form the emotional bedrock of this release. To hear the old fella heavily panting, barking and slurping from a water bowl would, you would think, intrude upon the delicately layered filigrees of guitar, but they do no such thing. Conversely, Flea's performance raises Dedications above being merely another faceless, albeit gorgeous, slice of ambient drone. He's rightly the star of the show. - Spencer Grady, Foxy Digitalis
Dedications To Flea consists of two tracks that are both nearly twenty minutes. They are set to field recordings that W&C took while taking Flea for a walk. "Ode To A Dog" is the better half and compliments The Dream House nicely. "Sketch For Flea" is arguably the most diverse track on the two discs in terms of texture, but is the least rewarding. I love the idea behind it, but listening to a dog pant on record can be jarring, and also frustrating, especially when the surrounding music is so gorgeous. - Hugh, Unfinished
It's odd how beautiful songs rooted in death and loss can actually be. It's been five years since Windy & Carl have released an album and it's been well worth the wait. The duo's blend of thick melodic drone over long space trails evokes a melancholic, serene radiance. Dedications to Flea is an ode to their late dog composed of actual samples of Flea himself. Lie down, turn up your stereo and rejoice in life. -- Fred Miketa, XLR8R