Saturday 24 March 2018

Music: The River by Wildbirds & Peacedrums * * * *

John Meagher

John Meagher

Swedish husband and wife duo Andreas Werliin and Mariam Wallentin have been lumped into the so-called "freak folk" movement and labelled as "nu-jazz", yet neither tag adequately describes their experimental, freeform approach that was first fostered while studying musical improvisation at university.

Wilfully experimental music can be tedious for everyone apart from the creators, but this third album -- which comprises two previously released EPs, Retina and Iris -- is an absorbing exercise in boundary pushing.

Retina has a dark, brooding heart, beautifully complimented by Wallentin's haunting vocals. An Icelandic chamber choir accentuates the other-worldly feel, offering a suitably brooding contribution to Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood, while Under Land and Over Sea is an evocative, dreamy composition that finds Wallentin's vocals at their most eerie. Like Bjork's Medulla, this is a collection where the voice is truly treated as an elaborate instrument.

Iris, by contrast, is more minimal and centred around Werliin's virtuoso percussion playing. His steel drum is the defining sound of The Wave, an intoxicating track whose spare production leaves a lasting impression, and on closer, The Well, whose rousing, hypnotic beat takes the breath away.

Burn it: Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood; The Wave

Irish Independent

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