Nate Young made his name with the languorous, and at times laborious, ooze of garbled electronics, bleeding guitar lines, and his venerable whispers, screams, and snarls as the one constant third of the closest thing the modern United States noise scene has seen to a breakthrough act. But Lollapalooza gigs and Sub Pop signings be damned, Wolf Eyes were (and still are, as their 2013 effort No Answer: Lower Floors demonstrates) wholeheartedly committed to the terror that such a sonic combination can exorcise.
Young’s recent solo material, however, embraces all of the nausea that Wolf Eyes’ material was able to conjure but none of the horror movie tropes (the grinding saw sounds and distant screams) as shortcuts to that end goal. Blinding Confusion, Young’s fifth proper solo LP, largely carries through that malady, though by means even simpler than before.
Each cut here comprises of not much more than a few synth parts to spark its chaos. “Escape With Nothing”, even with its disorienting pans and distant swells of noise, breathes far more than Young’s material with Wolf Eyes ever does. It’s equally unnerving, as its clatter and clangs compete with radio static for your undivided attention, steering clear of claustrophobia. Granted, he’s working with a more limited toolbox than usual, but it’s that insistence on minimalism that makes Blinding Confusion terrifying in its endless possibilities.
Even as the hymn-like dirge of “Only Fallen Heads” one of Young’s most melodic moments in his entire working career wavers to a close, it’s the apprehension that sticks rather than the simple melancholy the chords might otherwise influence. It’s a panic attack conceptualized as a rare symphony, only one arranged for a solo keyboard.
Blinding Confusion may go down a little smoother than any artifact in Young’s past, but he’s hardly going easy on you.
Essential Tracks: “Only Fallen Heads”, “Forever Day”