More a multi-faceted adventure than a simple song, “Wild Eyed Friend” is the mysterious out-of-towner you see across the room at a party of familiar faces and invent intriguing stories about. When you finally meet him, he turns out to be less quirky and cryptic than anticipated, but also deeper and more sincere. You are glad he exists, even if you will never see him again.
The good thing, of course, is that you can go and listen to “Wild Eyed Friend” as often as you’d like. And I do recommend a number of repeats; there’s a lot to take in here—the slow, slowly developing pre-introduction, with its gentle, semi-dissonant air of an awakening meadow; the subtly wonderful blend of guitar and orchestral elements in the brisker “true” introduction (1:12); the engaging, concise verse (1:38), with its drum-driven appeal and no-nonsense segue into the non-chorus-y chorus (2:05), which grabs the ear with abrupt ease. It helps that front man Mark David Ashworth has a welcoming, semi-theatrical tone, his high-ranging baritone slightly roughened and rounded by something husky and knowing. It helps too that the ensemble doesn’t throw its orchestrality (a word?) in your face; I like how the winds and flutes and strings and such kind of just weave and evanesce through the landscape here without making a big deal of their presence; best of all, they let the most interesting instrument in the room be the drums—not typical of most things that have been labeled “chamber pop” to date. Drummer Shaun Lowecki (last seen around these parts in the band The Lawlands, in January) has an up-front way of staying in the background, of guiding the music through interesting places often because of his own patterns, without ever doing things that say “Hey, look at me! I’m the drummer!” Good stuff, repeatedly.
Muralismo is based in San Francisco. Ashworth has released a few solo albums previously; Muralismo coalesced as a group project in the 2007 to 2010 time frame, as players came on board, often synchronistically, and aligned themselves into the quintet they are today. “Wild Eyed Friend” is the lead track from the group’s self-titled, eight-song debut album, which the band self-released in LP, CD, and digital formats last month. The above Dropbox MP3 link comes directly from the band. You can listen to the whole album and buy it via Bandcamp.