Joseph Thomas Haege – Vin Blanc/White Wine Live in Germany

4 out of 5

Label: Self-released

Produced by: Fritz Bruckner, Frithjof Rodel

Huh, well, evidence of the ephemeral nature of digital – this 5-track live EP isn’t listed anywhere I can find anymore: Haege’s bandcamp, White Wine’s bandcamp, discogs… I think it was a free download from one of those bandcamps at some point, and I’m glad I picked it up: recorded in 2014, perhaps right at the start of WW (there’s some chatter on the tracks about how they’ve been a band for only 44 days), this is a good example of countering my usual criticism of live discs: it sounds really good, and it absolutely brings a new vibe to the tracks (mostly pulled from In Every Way but One) that I would say makes them distinct.

The VB/WW discs have a very processed and digital production vibe that butts up against Joe Haege’s brusque vocals, normally mixed to the top and very throaty. Here, an acoustic-based track like Don’t Get Romantic sounds very different without the production masking, and I’d say I prefer how organic it sounds, and the looseness it allows in the song’s pace / vocals. Same goes for followups Glassy Eyes and I’m Here: the live drums bring a completely different atmosphere to the tracks, and it’s nice to hear the bit of wiggle room that a live set provides, as the increasingly digital sound of 31 Knots and then VB was really one of my nits with how Haege’s projects evolved.

Single Losing Sweet Permission is interesting here; that’s an example of a song that perhaps benefits from the strictness of a studio, but also means the live version gets to be unique and worth its own listen. Closer To Be A Mess is accurately named – I think it’s unique to this recording, and does come across as a bit of a B-side; a little scattered.

Crisply recorded, and kept nice and concise at 5 tracks, I do feel lucky to have downloaded this before it disappeared, as it’s a good complement to VB/WW’s output, and especially as a sister release to In Every Way But One.