Graphic Nature: Strange Wilds - Subjective Concepts

Graphic Nature, Local Music
07/26/2015
Sam Hart

On Subjective Concepts Olympia trio Strange Wilds have produced a faultless full length of feedback ridden, jagged jams that have helped bring a riotous, rebellious renaissance to Seattle’s notorious label, Sub Pop. To discuss the cover art, steeped in the same tightrope tension as the music, KEXP caught up with vocal/guitarist Steven to talk about visual aesthetics of the new release.Regarding how the Subjective Concepts cover art came to fruition, Steven says, “I remember I was walking to work one day and I was listening to the new songs without vocals because I was still working them out before I had to go in and record them. I went to walk along a concrete curb, like one detached from a sidewalk but runs along the street, and while I was balancing I suddenly had this thought of what if this was the edge of a tall building. And then right after that thought I was like 'Dang, that could be a cool record cover'. Up to that point we didn’t really have any ideas for cover art other than we wanted it to involve a person and be in color and have some kind of iconic look to it, something people could remember it by. I thought someone who appears to be losing their balance on the edge of a high rise building could be pretty iconic.”  With the idea in place, the band took their brainstormed blueprints to Sub Pop, who in turn found the perfect visual architect to visualize the design.

“The [picture for the cover art] was taken by photographer David Belisle,” Steven notes. “We came up with the concept and then pitched it to Sub Pop. They were down and got in touch with David who was in New York and he took a series of shots and we picked out the one we liked the most.. He’s worked with other Sub Pop artists before and also has done a lot of photos of R.E.M. and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, so it was a real treat that he wanted to work with us”.

A dramatic cityscape is one of the most powerful images within photography, and Belisle excels in conveying the sense of wonder, power and beauty attached to the Big Apple. The character within carries a somewhat playful [perhaps maniacal] swagger that is in clear juxtaposition to the seriousness of the situation she finds herself in, leaving it for the viewer to draw their own conclusion as to the entity's motives.

In regards to the correlation between the music and the cover art, Steven explains, “The concept just sounded interesting to us. We actually came up with the idea after recording was for the most part finished. But there is kind of a correlation to what we’re doing as a band. Some people have expressed they feel uneasy looking at [the cover art], and that is kind of what we were going for. That sense of standing on the edge, or even more so running along the edge and losing balance. This is the first time any of us have jumped into this part of the music world, we all come from the DIY punk scene so everything we’ve been getting into by signing to Sub Pop is brand new territory to us and it can feel like walking on the edge sometimes. As cheesy as that sounds.”

Sounding at times like the harsh end of a manic episode, Subjective Concepts treads the fine line between gritty, grunge and incredibly catchy. Balancing on a knife edge between hopelessness to the thing with feathers itself, Belisle’s cover art evokes the same tense feeling from the eyes as it does with the ears.

Get your own copy of Subjective Concepts from the band's Bandcamp page and make sure to give them a thumbs up on Facebook so you can find out when they are next playing shows in your hood. As an added bonus, treat your ears to the grunge goodness of the new release's opening track below:

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