Adam Wiltzie – Eleven Fugues for Sodium Pentothal

Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie piles high the electronics and strings on his new solo album

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 03 Apr 2024
  • Adam Wiltzie – Eleven Fugues for Sodium Pentothal
Album title: Eleven Fugues for Sodium Pentothal
Artist: Adam Wiltzie
Label: Kranky
Release date: 5 Apr

Sodium pentothal is commonly used as a sedative and anaesthetic, but it can also reportedly be used as a truth serum. What truths can the wordless dirges of Adam Wiltzie eek out of us? The opener’s lengthy title gestures towards the terrestrial matters of death, placing us on the steady ground of a cemetery. But the piled-high electronics and swooning strings head towards the cosmic. These nine tracks prioritise serenity and beauty in their evocation of some unknowable beyond. Their sparkle can become almost too perfect, which makes the dark abruptness of the last two pieces feel like release, even if they throw its general hopefulness into uncertainty.

Wiltzie’s work is best known as part of ambient duo Stars of the Lid. When his collaborator Brian McBride died last summer, Wiltzie hinted at a raft of music he had to dig through. He told The Guardian: “I can’t yet put my arms around the memory of Brian, but someday I am going to try to do this for everyone, so at least the end is documented.” Whether it’s in Wiltzie’s own Eleven Fugues…, or the vast expanses of sound they conjured together, their music is where resolution can be found. 

Listen to: Buried At Westwood Memorial Park, In An Unmarked Grave, To The Left Of Walter Matthau, We Were Vaporised, (Don’t Go Back To) Boogerville