WASP (2016)

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

Bryce Miller's put together an interesting musical experiment with his release of WASP. He composed all of the music while reading his way through Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy (also known as “The Girl Who ...” books). It's pretty basic ambient music, for the most part, and while it really creates an atmosphere, which accurately reflects the cold world in which the Millennium Trilogy takes place, it’s not anything that really stands out, as one begins listening. 

We suppose that’s the point: obviously, Williams’ score is meant to be played as you’re reading, and we certainly understand that anything too terribly distracting will take away from the experience of the books. However, one does want to be able to have reason to put this tape in the cassette deck for reasons other than reading Stieg Larsson’s books. They’re enjoyable, but much as we don’t play Star Wars scores only as background for Star Wars films, there needs to be something more to WASP than just background noise. 

Happily, the likes of “74774 [Idiotic_Table]” appears at just such a point in one’s listening experience that its robust thump is a welcome surprise. While not a rocker by any standard, it’s positively a banger in comparison to the tracks, which proceed it. The build from quiet melancholy into thudding beats is gradual, and just as it turns into a speeding rush, it returns to that melancholy again. It’s not until the beginning of the second side of the cassette, with “Blomkvist,” that things really take off into more emphatic territory.

The entirety of Side B is a force with which to be reckoned. It’s far more intensive a musical workout than Side A, and making it all the way through “No Compromises” -- especially as it doesn’t relent at any point, much as the title implies -- leaves you feeling like you’ve just ran a race. The relaxation one gets with “Just Company” is fairly much undone by the panic-inducing thrall of bonus track “Exposed Secrets.”

Composer Bryce Miller has a short essay in the WASP cassette’s J-card that explains his rationale behind the project, and one’s impressed by how fully a cassette can realize the vision of three full novels. It’s definitely suited for a reading experience, and thanks to a second side that can grab your attention, works well for casual listening, as well.


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