Remaining stagnant as an artist is a fear that seemingly everyone besides Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay has. To come back, release after release, with the same sound and vision is death even to superstars like Katy Perry. Reinvention comes, part and parcel, with being a creative person. Even still, there's a worse fear that can arise in the hearts of artists: straying from formula to deafening silence. To use a recent example, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah burst onto the scene with an inscrutable debut, only to fall prey to the indulgences and overreaching that defines the so-called "sophomore slump."
Where is the line between artistic advancement and the misguided reinvention that fundamentally shakes the ground beneath a band's feet? Chris Bock has spent years in various bands, honing his taste for noise-rock and navel-gazing drone. In 2007, he formed Revolt Revolt as an outlet for material he had been preparing as a solo artist. His predilections for post-punk drive firmly in place, the newly christened Revolt Revolt took off for a marathon round of touring and refining what made this band this band.
"I decided I could get different members, if need be, but I just wanted something full on, that I could tour," says Bock from on tour in Santa Cruz. "I really like the people I have now. We just finished up a record that comes out on August 7th, and it was pretty effortless."
Revolt Revolt put out two albums since their formation in 2007, both of which mostly came from the writings of Chris Bock, but the band eventually settled down with Mike Muir (guitar), Jake Fredrickson (bass), and Ben Wieland (drums). On their forthcoming EP, the band comes together to make a truly collaborative record. Wild Unraveling is a remarkably compelling album that truly feels like the work of a group of artists working together to create something of a forward step from what Revolt Revolt has done before.
While the post-punk and noise-rock leanings still exist, Wild Unraveling unveils a new side of the band that doesn't quite stand in opposition to their previous work, but rather indicates a surge forward in emotion and feeling, not to mention the extraordinary texture and novelty provided by opera singer Emma Doupe, as well as Built to Spill's Doug Martsch providing idiosyncratic guitar on several tracks. Bock's trademark rasping whisper is accompanied by a surprisingly complex bed of instrumentation.
"Our earlier stuff was a little more punk-influenced, a little more rocking out, which is cool and all," says Bock. "There is still some of that, even in the stuff we're doing now, but my guys and I are taking a few more chances. We brought in some different instrumentation, like this steel guitar player that I just happened to meet by chance. He came on and played some really cool stuff. We brought an opera singer in, because I heard this melody in my head, and I found a girl to do it. Doug Martsch happened to be in town, and he's known us for a long time. ... We've dynamically enhanced (our music,) I guess. That's a good way to put it."
Where Revolt Revolt find themselves is in a place where they break new ground through the ingenious use of restraint. Instead of sounding like a band backing down, Revolt Revolt sound more assured than ever. This is all not to say that Wild Unraveling is sparse; on the contrary, it teems with details and fun diversions to create a tapestry that shows a band in transition. Rather than rotting in stagnation, or finding themselves neck-deep in preposterous reinvention, Revolt Revolt are a band racing forward.
LE VOYEUR, w/ Mindrips, guests, May 19, 10 p.m., No cover, 404 E. 4th Ave., Olympia, 360.943.571