Brooklyn’s Luke Wyatt is best known for his hallucinatory, warped-VHS videos for the likes of Ital and Peoples Potential Unlimited, but Tarifa, his debut 12″ as Torn Hawk for the chameleonic L.I.E.S., shows he’s just as adept in the audio realm. Wyatt clearly composes with visuals in mind, however. The four tracks on Tarifa resemble soundtrack work, and stand in contrast to the label’s more dance floor-oriented releases.
In the wake of several years of Washed Out and (most of) Not Not Fun, the low-fidelity approach employed here does not sound especially novel. But Wyatt’s tracks, infused with echoing, splintery guitar and mutating synthetic patterns, extend beyond chillwave pastiche, or at least evoke hazy pastel landscapes with more finesse than the typical sort of Italo-sampling rehash. Although “A Piece of the Storm” and “Mark of the Hound” are propulsive, if not outright motorik, a lethargic pace pervades. With the exception of the title track’s slowed-down, ring-modulated boogie patterns, the drums are mainly about keeping a vague, house-inspired time. Most changes come courtesy of Wyatt’s guitar, which ranges from disco licks to squalling movements recalling The Cure and The Durutti Column. Disbanded Swedish duo Studio continue to have a near-monopoly on the Factory-Records-gone-to-the-beach ideal; the profoundly smudged Tarifa is miles away from their pristine productions, but it works toward a similarly zoned-out endlessness.