When everyone else was trying their hand at banana bread or doing umpteen Zoom quizzes, Alex Edkin was sifting through nearly 10 years’ worth of demos. Those accumulated fragments would eventually become ‘Weird Nightmare’. The METZ vocalist/guitarist stresses that this solo endeavour, which also goes by the name Weird Nightmare, isn’t a pandemic album.
With his day job grounded and a tonne of ideas at his disposal, he saw the months spent in lockdown as good a time as any to bring these songs to life. After days spent home-schooling his son, Edkins would while away his nights at METZ’s studio, in what would turn out to be his salvation from the spectre of Covid-19. “It was a godsend for me”, states the Canadian when reflecting on his time fleshing out the record. “The hours would disappear and I would get lost in the music and the record. It was a beautiful escape.”
“It doesn’t sound right to my ears until it’s pushed over the edge” reflects Edkins on harnessing his craft and for anyone accustomed with METZ this will resonate deeply. The noise factor is very much there on ‘Weird Nightmare’ with certain tracks sounding like they’d slot in nicely to our protagonist’s primary endeavour. However, there are other instances where the sonic assault is dialled down a notch, allowing melody and tenderness to poke up amongst the caustic barrages. Edkins saw this opportunity as a chance to challenge himself “I found myself doing new things I didn’t have the guts to do before, recording everything by myself and trusting all my musical instincts. I think when music manifests quickly, a certain amount of honesty automatically comes along with it. When it’s a purely instinctual creation, there is no opportunity to obscure the truth.”
With Edkins capturing ‘Weird Nightmare’ himself, there’s an understandable rawness to the record and one that distils the essence of music in its purest form. This tangibility flows through the record, whether it’s the tender acoustic strum of ‘Zebra Dance’, punctuated by the distant chatter of Edkins’ child or the scratchy drum machine beats that signal ‘Searching for You’, the record’s opening track. Despite the album being conceived in the midst of a global health crisis this didn’t thwart the necessity for collaboration. ‘Wrecked’ features Alicia Bognanno from Bully, a song that was almost discarded if it hadn’t have been for this hook-up. Bognanno’s tuneful vocals add a nice juxtaposition to Edkins’ sneered delivery and the big plumes of fuzz that populate the song’s DNA. Chad VanGaalen appears on ‘Oh No’s unhinged cacophony, a song that neatly slots into Edkins’ preferred musical styling….this song is very much teetering on the edge. Another track on the verge of collapse is ‘Nibs’, a song buoyed by angle grinder noises and pockets of acrid fuzz. Looser, more melodic moments are frequent occurrences and ones that had a nice counterpoint when compared the ‘Weird Nightmare’s more dissonant forays. ‘Lusitania’ channels a lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll angle, there are some searing pockets of noise, but at its core is a breezy and dare I say it, poppy affair. ‘Dream’ manifests like a queasy traipse through something that resembles psychedelia but with its colours inverted to a slightly darker palette. Even so, there’s a catchy thread that subtly weaves its way through the fuzz. And then there’s album closer ‘Holding Out’, the biggest departure from METZ’s quintessential sound. Slower and more methodical, there’s a tarnished beauty in the way shimmering guitars create expanding corkscrews of sound like a faded lullaby, while Edkins favours a hushed vocal over his usual sneered approach.
‘Weird Nightmare’ is Alex Edkins giving us an access all areas pass to his creative process. It’s an invite no-one should decline.
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