- In football, a "short passing game" describes a style of play where the ball tends to circulate in neat geometric patterns. This happens to be the title of Davy Kehoe's latest record, but it's not an accurate metaphor for the label to which it belongs. Wah Wah Wino's music, showcased in the recent compilation Absolutely Wino, can seem unruly and full of tricks. Unpredictable tracks like "Stolen Valour," "Craudrock" and "Tractor Troubles (Part II)" spoke more to the maverick spirit of a player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic than the regimented simplicity of teammates whose job is to fetch and keep the ball.
For all that, Short Passing Game combines skill and discipline with a practised ease. Operating within a narrowed fusion of krautrock and post-rock, Davy Kehoe is faithful to Wah Wah Wino's musical curiosity without straying too far from the bands from which the mini-album takes inspiration. There are tints of Neu! and Suicide, but the closest analogue is maybe Tortoise. On the group's self-titled debut, instrumental songs were woven with harmonica smears, mumbled vocals, repeating rhythms and electronic thumbprints, all tied together with an introverted funk. Strapped to Kehoe's drum machine, these same elements often travel at greater speeds—less tortoise, more hare, if you will.
In the tight gaps of "Short Passing Game"'s racing drums, twitchy bass guitars, harmonica swipes, wild yelps and sonar-like synths jostle with each other. This frenzy also drives the guitar screeches of "Slow Rock Harmonica" and "Running Into Coverage," whose dense electronic scree may owe something to the phone signal listed among the track's instruments. "Happy Highway" layers guitars over another pounding beat. Korg MS-20s and Siel Orchestra synths simmer under these tracks, though the electronic elements are secondary to the album's organic textures.
When it slows to a jog, Short Passing Game finds a more affecting rhythm. "Going Machine"'s drum machine snares rattle as though played by a human hand. Sustained organs and bass guitar notes idle in the song's fabric, in the same way teenagers might sit on beanbags to roll joints. The title of "Storm Desmond" suggests disaster (the track is named after a storm that passed over the UK and Ireland in December 2015). What emerges instead is the pastoral melancholy of The Durutti Column, served with a sly nod. As the clarinet begins to spiral around "Storm Desmond"'s warm harmonica, a breeze whistles like a faint echo of chaos.
01. Short Passing Game
02. Going Machine
03. Happy Highway
04. Storm Desmond
05. Slow Rock Harmonica
06. Running Into Coverage