Alison Mosshart, frontwoman of The Kills and The Dead Weather has a new multimedia project. A photo/art collection titled Car Ma which showcases her fascination with muscle cars, tire tracks and Americana, connected to the spoken word album Sound Wheel which takes snippets of Mosshart’s poetic thoughts from the book and augments them with odd recordings from the ether.
A cross between a late-night pirate radio station with various cranks calling in and a Jim Jarmusch film, Sound Wheel allows Mosshart to flush out thoughts on the minutiae of cars, road trips, American cities, cigarettes and modern-day politics while playing with different accents being tried out by the daughters of American used car salesmen. She uses sound effects to keep the ear from getting bored such as echoing her lines, handclaps, and distortion for different characters, even speaking in multiple languages to set her scenes.
The tracks run from short nine-second bursts to four-minute scripts. Most are just poetic observations from her travels and musical journeys. “The Distance” deals with tumultuous relationships while “Mind Field” is a riffed salesman rant that leaves Mosshart laughing. “Sonic States” dips into beat style conjuring up Allen Ginsberg in its hopeful bleakness and observational poetry of the modern United States resulting in one of the best offerings here. “Returning The Screws” is an excellent musical track, a haunting late-night sleek number as Mosshart’s powerful voice drips over the minimal guitar and glass coke bottle cymbals; singing along empty asphalt in the middle of nowhere.
Sound Wheel is an experimental chronicling of the vagabond road trip lifestyle of an artist who is constantly observing the open highways and the American culture driving them. Mosshart keeps her eyes sharp, her voice fluid and her thoughts rolling as she follows her muse.