A few years ago, The Bay Bridged did a survey of local shoegaze bands — and one of those acts that has been particularly quiet, though making sweeping moves with their latest EP Around, is Whirr. They’re playing tonight at Bottom of the Hill with Nothing and Lycus, and we wanted to take a closer look at the mysterious and constantly evolving shoegaze outfit’s approach to Around, released in July by Graveface Records.
The four-song collection is rich in reverb, massively slow, and despite how heavy the guitars ring out, it’s also somewhat delicate to the ear. Guitarist Nick Bassett commented that Around was originally intended as a winter release. “We wanted the tone to be fitting for the occasion,” he said recently over email. “Still, the record is meant to be listened to at night and on gloomier days. It’s almost conceptual in that sense.”
Whirr recorded Around live in Jack Shirley’s Palo Alto studio Atomic Garden — where many other local punk, hardcore, and metal bands have worked (including Loma Prieta, Punch, Deafheaven). According to their tumblr, Whirr just completed a full US tour without a vocalist, but their recordings have had a revolving cast of female vocalists since their first record. Kristina Esfandiari offered vocals on this EP, as she does on her own records as King Woman as well the newer project Miserable.
Compared to the faster moments on Distressor or Pipe Dreams, this EP is mellow and patient. The first half of the EP — “Drain” and “Swoon” — builds a cloud around your head just before taking things to an even quieter, slower pace for the record’s second half. Compared to Pipe Dreams‘ strong opener “Reverse”, there’s some overlap in the song structure, but in the sense that the EP stretches out a song like “Reverse” into two, more abstract pieces. Although no plans for a third LP have been announced, Bassett added that Around “isn’t particularly related to