The Weird and Wonderful World of W-H-I-T-E
A peculiar moniker (and not easily searchable), W-H-I-T-E is the performing name of former Cal Arts experimentalist Cory Thomas Hanson. This June, Aagoo Records, a New Jersey-based indie label with an eclectic, mainly experimental roster, releases III, the aptly titled third offering from Hanson since 2009’s Sunna (Twin Tigers was released in 2011). III is a swimming pool of sound, ranging from the mellow acoustic to the psychedelic dance. Wet with warm, trippy synth pads and Hanson’s sweetly haunting falsetto, fans of Eno and Emo will all want to dive in. On Aagoo’s website, Hanson says, “I started writing with the idea of John Lennon making a record on the moon with Cluster and Eno in the producers’ chair. And then remixed by Moby or someone cool like that.”
Written predominantly while traveling, III is a Brian Eno cum Primal Scream-inspired amalgamation of a multitude of material, scrapped and reworked several times over a two-and-a-half year period. After attending art school in L.A. and cutting his teeth with cheap electronic bedroom recording, Hanson hit the road for a few years with his friends’ bands. He’s toured the states and Europe with acts like Pangea and Mikal Cronin (Merge Records), with whom he used his film experience to collaborate on a tour documentary posted from his own YouTube account.
Hanson also collaborates visually with Andrew Dixon Hutton to produce a weird and highly textural video for the single “I Wasn’t Afraid” that follows a lone, black-gloved hand through a variety of colorful experiences. The song itself is one of the more lively and dance-worthy tracks on the record. Like his film work, Hanson’s lyrics lean towards the non-literal and poetic. But there’s honesty and maturity in Hanson’s reverb-soaked vocal tone that cuts through the wash of sounds on III. Less dense tracks like “Swim” and “Demons” feature a mesmerizing wash of acoustic and pedal-steel tones but are stark enough to come off as sleepy and comforting. “Pretty Creatures” open with the line “big explosion in my head” and follows with “siphoning out your eyes, pretty creatures in the world today.” The chorus meditates on variations of the statement, “I’d like to help you but I don’t know when,” and is backed by ’90s influenced keyboards and warbling tremolo noises. III’s production is spacey and ambient, but like other Hanson releases is grounded by strong, simple melodies.
Right now, there’s not a wealth of Google-able material on this guy and much remains a mystery about multi-directional artist Cory Thomas Hanson. But if his creative powers of film-making, production, sturdy song-writing, and emotive vocal delivery persist, the world will soon know more about the world of W-H-I-T-E.