Blanche Blanche Blanche - Wink With Both Eyes (2012)
Blanche Blanche Blanche are a weird group, and Wink With Both Eyes was a weird album. Hailing from Vermont, the duo is made up of Zach Phillips and Sarah Smith. Wink With Both Eyes was recorded on analog tape. So for as many tape-warp sounds as there are on the record, at least the group probably came by them honestly. The record has an atmosphere like that of vaporwave. Built upon rudimentary synth and distorted samples, it’s intentionally rough and campy, sounding like bumper music for a Tim & Eric. Some surprisingly good bass sits underneath several tracks, specifically the baby’s-first ‘80s synthpop of “She’s Adopted.” There are enough spoken whispers and quick samples snuck in that I needed to relisten to several sections to hear all the words. And a surprisingly classical influence comes through in the scratchy guitar solo on the title track. Sarah’s vocals, somewhere between The Shaggs and the frantic, clear enunciation of Garfunkel and Oates, are the most striking part of Wink With Both Eyes. Her singing comes across almost like a clunky recording of someone unused to being recorded, although she does sound like she understands the nuances of singing.
Is Wink With Both Eyes an important album? My only conclusion is a dissatisfying “maybe.” The record is interesting, but only because of how abnormal it is, and it’s not abnormal in a way that speaks of musical innovation. It’s not as if Blanche Blanche Blanche is pushing their genre in a totally new direction. It’s more like the duo found intentionally antiquated parts of old genres and slapped them together. Like a Golden Girls reference (which I strongly suspect the group was named after), Wink With Both Eyes seems like it would appeal exclusively to hipsters itching for something ironic, obscure, and weird, rather than on its own musical merit. It will be years before anyone can look back at this group and decide if they were pioneers of a musical movement, or just arty kids from Vermont who made a weird, unmemorable record.
Thanks to Josh! - @princewelshie
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