“Jogging/Neon Foaming” Wray

Wray have released the video for their single “Jogging/Neon Forming.” The track is off Wray’s forthcoming release Stream of Youth/Blank World, available June 5, via Earth Libraries. “Take a Motorik Beat. Repeat some phrases and chords. Give it some space. Add a little grit. Polish it with some synths. Try to recall the hopes and perceptions of a past life and sing about that. Oh, and it’s better if you are jogging. … Neon Forming is the dream that comes after,” Wray explains.

Fantasy and science-fiction are often treated as an escape from reality, but in the heart of those fantastic worlds lie prescient truths about our world. On the other side of that coin, some of the world’s greatest aesthetic beauty comes in the form of raw science. The new album from Birmingham, Alabama’s WRAY vibrates at the intersection of those dichotomies and others—hope and pessimism, wild and composed, joy and pain. There is no light without dark, no dark without light, a concept which birthed the dual record Stream of Youth / Blank World.

“A lot of people hang on to the idea that we can have some kind of utopia some day, that human beings will evolve to a pure state. But if the human race could start over, would things look any different?” says bassist/vocalist David Brown. Along with bandmates Blake Wimberly (drums) and David Swatzell (guitars/vocals), Brown felt fueled by their status in a blue city in a red state, in the American south with its morally complex past, in a modernity fueled by conflict and difference. Though they only planned on recording a pair of songs, they came away with a full album, but one separated into two clear halves: Stream of Youth holds the record’s hopeful tracks, while Blank World comprises the fatalistic songs.

The album’s long gestation and the life changes the band members underwent in that time influenced its complex conceptual push-and-pull as well. “We started working on this album in 2016, and since then my wife and I have had a child, Blake moved to Chicago, and Swatzell joined a second band—Unwed Sailor,” Brown explains. WRAY self-produced the album at the home studio of label Communicating Vessels in the Birmingham neighborhood of Woodlawn, experimenting, writing and recording at their own pace.