Since 2006, JR Robinson and Esther Shaw—Wrekmeister Harmonies’ only core members—have been making multi-dimensionally heavy music. Their albums often have the feel of a funeral procession, slow and steady but growing with intensity over time. Yet at no time does the music rest on any single theme or fall prey to cliché. Dark, droning suffering is pierced occasionally and intentionally by JR’s deep vocals reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, or shattered by his wild yells—a triumph of survival and of struggle endured.
Nowhere are feelings of tension, dread, and escape evoked more powerfully than their 2016 LP Light Falls, for which they recruited the help of members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The title is taken from Primo Levi’s If This is a Man—a story drawn from his experience during the Holocaust. JR’s voice and words punctuate quiet, brooding textures that swell into massive waves of sound, together telling a story of horror, disassociation, and survival.