Warnings amid the levity?

Wes's story about the making of this album is that, because of the COVID lockdown, he needed to busy himself and decided to play around with items (equipment) at hand. And I can believe him when he says he was doing this "for fun."

I can sense the spirit of fun -– even of play – that informs While Rome Burns. But I wouldn’t blame anyone who isn’t at least a little confused. The very title sets a somber tone: Wes was playing…while Rome burned. Some of the tracks are aggressively jagged and chaotic, but not in a “fun” way. We hear breaking glass, wailing voices, whining children, the bleeps and bloops common to hospital ICUs, and the horrid siren sound that buttons down the rhythm on “450 Kennedy Road.”

So…is the album fun? Or is it a warning of some kind?

Or might it be both? That seems hard to imagine. Meanwhile, Wes just smiles and holds his cards close to the chest.

-David Callow

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