Peter Pisano started the pseudo-self-titled Peter Wolf Crier after writing five songs in one night and bringing them to engineer Brian Moen to produce a solo album. Instead, Moen wound up drumming for Pisano’s debut, Inter-Be. The band’s sophomore release Garden of Arms was developed after Peter Wolf Crier’s grueling 2010 tour schedule. Physical and emotional wear and tear drive the album, and the turmoil brought the two musicians together. Moen’s urgent, structured drumming seamlessly restrains and encourages Pisano’s threadbare howl even more than on their first album.
Quiet resignation marks tracks like “Never Meant to Love You”, with looped sounds sharpened like a knife in the background and eloquent, at times ominous, minor chords looming large. Instrumental melancholy suffuses the whole album, especially on “Beach”, which opens with drooping guitar licks and echoing rain sticks. Pisano’s looping and Moen’s stormy drums work together toward the end of the song to conjure the image of waves crashing. However, Moen knows when to restrain himself, backing Pisano’s stirringly hollow, rich vibrato (not unlike Antony) on “Having It Out”, employing just a tambourine and a distant, minimal drumroll.
Peter Wolf Crier can also break it down with grungy guitars and rhythmic layering. “Krishnamurti” opens with almost trance-like galloping drums and continually driving guitars. It’s one of two overtly aggressive tracks on the album, along with “Hard Heart” and its loops of atonal wailing, vocalized numbers, and gasps rumbling behind Pisano’s lyrically bleeding heart.
Opener and first single “Right Away” combines the best of both, with Moen’s drumming moving fluidly between time signatures and Pisano lithely transitioning between pre-recorded loops and his voice in real time. The feeling of rewinding emphasizes his promise that “right away, I’ll be your time.” The similarly circuital, experimental track “Wheel” brings the album to a close, diminishing into fading static and distant howling. Peter Wolf Crier may have arrived at the end of its tour burned out, but by the conclusion of their second album, the duo has evolved a more coherent signature sound.
Essential Tracks: “Right Away”, “Beach”, and “Settling It Off”