A few years back, when I was considerably less tied down by things like work, a couple of friends and I endeavored to take a road trip from Seattle to Aurora, Colorado. Something about Desolation Wilderness' New Universe reminds me about that trip. It was about 500 degrees outside, and my car didn't have air conditioning. We drove ninety-five miles an hour the whole way there and back with all four windows down. There were frequently no other cars on the road with us–just miles and miles and miles of shimmering blacktop, dust, sagebrush, and antelope.
Desolation Wilderness sounds like pie in a creepy diner somewhere in Utah. They sound like a sweaty night camped out in a Wal-Mart parking lot in the middle of an endless sea of cattle ranches and gritty old men in Wrangler jeans. They sound like wind that blows in your car window and feels like the breath of a hot furnace. They sound like rusted springs and engine parts to a 1982 Ford pickup truck.
However, Desolation Wilderness also doesn't sound like all of those things–not really. The dust and heat and rusty springs and old trucks and creepy diners are seen only through a fine layer of Visqueen. They're like a fuzzy Super 8mm film of a picnic in 1968 (in fact, their video for “Come Over in Your Silver Car”—from their previous album White Light Strobing—looks like it is shot in 8 mm). There are no sharp edges or punchy lines delivered by vocals or guitar. Instead, both are manipulated by an endless parade of analog devices, creating a cool, dreamlike ambiance.
Desolation Wilderness’ jangly reverb-box guitar sound fits perfectly with a car ride on a hot day down a lonely road in the middle of nowhere with your feet sticking out the passenger-side window—or, at least, in a vague, hazy memory of one.