by Patrick Pilch (@pratprilch)
Arriving in the wake of Fond Han’s close call with collapse, Wronked’s fractured arrangement mirrors its own do-or-die creative process. In a five-day marathon recording session, frontman Thomas Baumann embarked on a feverish musical purge, fleshing out a collection of unfinished ideas with Seth Engel of Pallet Sound. The result is Fond Han’s liberating sophomore release; a sprawling LP that borrows elements of erratic grindcore and leaky free jazz while lyrically delving into a bleak corner of Baumann’s psyche. Wronked is emotionally dilated and sonically adventurous, an ambitious push toward an experimental rendering of Fond Han’s caustic punk foundation.
Wronked opts for less post-hardcore melodic breaks than its predecessor, instead accentuating the immersive and sedate alternate reality Baumann crafts between the band’s fiery riffs. The album’s casing is buffed with cathedralic reverb, each track an omnidirectional blowout of manic sonic swelling and contraction. With Wronked’s bent psychedelia and great hall production, it’s hard not to recall the atmospheric nuance of Veckatimist or m b v; the far off guitar tone and uptempo chug of “Twelve” reflects the bright rhythmic pulse of “Southern Point,” while the relentless percussion in “Wolfcrier” matches the maximalist throb of “wonder 2.” Between producers Seth Engel and Michael J Thomas III, Wronked radiates dissonance, prompts innovation and tames Fond Han’s candid madness.
Wronked’s neural opener is gargled and warbling, a winding abstract flume of aqueous effects and thick disorientation. The final orchestral pant of “Spine” suggests baroque punk, as clarinet, sax, bass and bassoon feed into the track’s stirring ambience. Classical instruments splice Fond Han’s abrasive post-hardcore framework, as the unorthodox combination becomes an experimental success on tracks like “Shuffled” and “Wolfcrier.” This stylistic marriage reappears on “Wronk,” as sinewy shrills construct a sense of uneasiness, uniting surrounding pieces of heady grind-punk mania.
While there are still fairly accessible moments found on Wronked, Fond Han’s latest is a dense and brooding selection of tracks--the band’s most left-field tape yet. The album is a conceptual showcase, pulling together ideas both old and new into a singular cohesive project. Wronked revisits Sham Cloud’s melodic highs on “Dumpty” and batshit noisecore on “Rink Brood,” all while successfully plummeting into its own distinct and immersive aesthetic. The band’s latest experimental success taps into the frenzied and despondent universe of Thomas Baumann--an exciting trajectory for Fond Han’s future pursuits.