3.1.19 by Ryan Masteller
I’m a dad – my kid’s seven, an incredible athlete (like me), and reads at a fourth-grade level (in second grade, also like me). No big deal. Whettman Chelmets is also a dad, but he’s got a little one – I mean a REALLY wee babe at the moment, a daughter born in 2018. So, unlike me, who’s coaching soccer and trying to curtail his boy’s runaway Super Mario habit, Whettman’s stumbling around in the dark in the middle of the night, fumbling for nightlights and pacifiers and bottle warmers, praying to whatever deity is up there that he’s swaddled that darling girl just right so he can sleep uninterrupted for the next two hours before she wakes up again.
Oh… that sounds awful. No more kids for me. No thanks.
“Giant Eyes & Infant Steps” though – as much as I want to relive parts of those days, this tape’s sort of a warning. Delivered with love, surely – don’t get me wrong about that. Whettman’s nothing if not the devoted father. But he’s clearly letting off some steam here, and it’s really working in his favor. Backing away from some of his post-rock tendencies, he delivers drones with gritted teeth and bloodshot eyes, sleep-deprived and on edge, but with an insanely big heart for this little life that’s so much a part of his world. Readers, seriously, I apologize if you don’t get the appeal of being a parent (and I was one fairly late, comparatively), but these intensely competing outlooks on parenting (zombified waking hours vs. shaping an entire worldview of someone that you helped make) form the dichotomy that defines the life of a parent and, perversely, invigorates them.
Whettman Chelmets just happens to be able to coherently intertwine these things into an artistic statement.
“Interruptus” is easily the theme, but “TFW It’s 4:00 a.m. and You’ve Already Been Up 3 Times” and “MRW I Drop the Passie in the Dark” illustrate the gallows humor necessary to navigate the dreaded “nighttime” with a child. But it’s all offset – how could it not be? – with the shimmeringly manic “Dada,” the bewildering and wonderful sentiments of the title track, and, of course, the hallucinatory wonder of “She Says Dada,” that magical moment in a barely functioning parent’s life when their child finally addresses them through a haze of exhaustion. It’s worth it more than you could possibly know.
“Giant Eyes & Infant Steps” is out now via PDX’s Girly Girl Musik – get one now!