Killer Brilliance


"I want to fall in and out of the cracks of genres, finding the nerves not yet hit. It's usually in the disturbing part of the spectrum..." So says Joe Haege, who's earned a reputation for unsettling sounds with 31 Knots and Tu Fawning. He was also a member of Menomena and The Dodos. Haege formed White Wine (known earlier as Vin Blanc) as a solo project, but it developed into an informal duo following the release of their second album, 2013's In Every Way But One, after Haege invited Fritz Brückner (Tu Fawning, Menomena) on his European tour. When an apartment fell vacant next to Brückner's home in Leipzig, Haege deserted Los Angeles, and, newly settled in Eastern Germany, added Chistian "Kirmes" Kuhr (Zentral Heizung Des Todes) to the coven while helping to build what would become White Wine's default home and fully functioning studio, Haunted Haus. This new line-up finds Haege delivering the most realized, intense and, at times, horrifying music of his career. The product of 18 months spent touring together, Killer Brilliance emerged, he says, from the trio's need "to get something dark and sinister out of our systems", and this is reflected, too, in the album's title. This sordid realization is mirrored in Killer Brilliance's disturbing, sometimes even distressing songs. Brückner's effects-heavy bassoon gives the record a macabre depth, while Kühr's aggressive drumming and percussion, firmly upfront in the mix, drives songs relentlessly to their ultimate demise. Haege, moreover, displays the urgent, menacing air of a preacher man delivering sermons about an imminent apocalypse. Punctuated by contrastingly feminine, spoken-word vignettes that add to the uneasy cinematic mood -- one that draws upon dystopic visions to '60s style film noir -- Killer Brilliance piles in with the rabid "Broken Letter Hour" and the desperately tense "Hurry Home", before the extraordinary title track pops eardrums and eyeballs. There's also the Birthday Party malevolence of "Falling From The Same Place", the growing threat of "Abundance", the baroque, carnivalesque "I'd Run", and the deceptive calm of "Bird In Hand". Musically, White Wine feed upon a diverse range of ingredients, including PJ Harvey, Liars, Beak, Suicide, Minutemen, David Bowie, Chuck D, and Diamanda Galás. Lyrically, Killer Brilliance exhibits Haege's self-confessed "weird affinity for double entendres" and "need to hold onto the sheer madness of existence."