Record Review: Writhing Squares’ “Out Of The Ether”

Space comes in a box, and all you need to do to get some is stomp on it. Writhing Squares, the Philadelphia duo of bassist Daniel Provenzano (Purling Hiss, Spacin’) and woodwinds/keys player Kevin Nickles (Ecstatic Vision), accomplish a self-contained variant on space rock on their second LP. Punch a key, and synth tones bubble; activate the delay pedal, and the voice of whoever is singing (they share duties) turns into a reverberant blur. They’ve got a bit of Hawkwind’s open-throttled aggravation in their sights and some Suicide-al angst in their hearts, but mostly they have a knack for evoking space and then subverting their own best efforts.

This is most likely their intention, since the singing conveys cruelty and frustration that are at odds with the intent to escape. Writhing Squares’ music works best, in fact, when it deals with limits. The shorter, vocal-fronted tunes grab your attention, and if you get to close to the bass, they’ll likely snag your sleeve and do some damage, too. The sidelong instrumental jam on the flip is a bit too open-ended for its own good, since duration dissipates rather than builds the tension that is this music’s essence. 

—Bill Meyer