“We want you to get out of your heads,” states the liner notes in Dire Wolves’ new massive collection of rarities and unreleased recordings. Throughout this 3-CD set, Jeffrey Alexander and co. not only accomplish this, they blast listeners straight out of their COVID-isolated homes, up through the atmosphere and into another galaxy.
Across the album’s 172 minutes of unheard and little-known jams, Dire Wolves repeatedly display that they are one of the most sonically daring acts today, and one of the few bands that are truly inhabited by the same adventurously creative spirit that flowed through the kosmiche artists of the 1970s (this is of course especially evident on their brain-melting cover of Faust’s “It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl”).
Live recordings like “Spyhopping” and “Dire Spires” are snapshots of the band in full flight, locking into hypnotic grooves, and steering the venue into shroomy jazzscapes. Meanwhile, tracks like the previously unreleased “Roaming The Rut” and the cathartic “Auld Lang Syne > The Great Combustion” show just how heavy and outrageous this group could be on stage. For those of us who had been hoping to see the Wolves play in person this year, these preserved performances are a godsend.
This compilation also reveals the band’s excellent ability to adapt and interpret other artists’ work. With the aforementioned Faust cover and an exceedingly powerful take on The Clean’s “Indigo Blue,” Alexander and the group explore the space and bones within the compositions. They effectively test out just how distantly they could take the songs without betraying the original soul of each tune.
The ultimate and consistent strength and versatility shown throughout this collection makes The Compleat Trancing Master a release that could be equally enjoyed by die-hard and casual fans alike, which itself is a rarity for rarity comps.
Pressed up to only 40 copies on hand-stamped discs housed in red craft slip sleeves with color printed inserts, these CDs are going to go fast. So be sure to grab yours now right here. Since these were originally released on last week’s Bandcamp day, I have to suggest to please toss in a few extra dollars to help the band out. As you know, COVID’s been extra hard on performers. Every little bit helps.