WILDBIRDS & PEACEDRUMS: The Snake (The Leaf Label)


Posted on Apr 9th 2009 12:02 am

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Wildbirds & Peacedrums: The Snake

The Snake
The Leaf Label 2009
10 Tracks. 42mins59secs

Icon: arrow Buy: CD | LP

A year ago, the excellent Leaf Label delivered Heatcore, the debut album by Wildbirds & Peacedrums, a Swedish duo formed of husband and wife Andreas Werliin (drums/percussions) and Mariam Wallentin (voice). The album, originally released a year before in their homeland, had been gathering considerable praises in the whole of Scandinavia, resulting in the pair pocketing the prestigious Jazz In Sweden 2008 prize, a considerable honour for a band evolving outside of the jazz canon. In addition, the pair’s deeply organic and incendiary live shows helped established them as one of the hottest acts to have emerged from Sweden in a while.

The Snake, recorded in Gothenburg and originally released in Sweden a year ago, sees Wallentin and Werliin considerably developing the scope of their collaboration. While they still rely greatly on the contrast between the warm flow of Wallentin’s voice and Werliin’s pretty omnipresent drums and the resulting tribal groove that ran through the almost entirety of their debut album, most prominently on There Is No Light, Places or Today/Tomorrow, the pair carve more refined and richly ornate compositions by working additional layers of instrumentation, ranging from xylophone, marimba and steel drums, to piano, flute, autoharp or harmonica, into the mix. But, far from disturbing the fragile equilibrium that holds the songs together, these new sounds allow the pair to explore a much wider range of emotions, not constrained to fill in the gaps in any way. At times, drums are totally absent, as on the gentle a cappella Island, which opens proceedings, or so discreet that they may as well be (Who Ho Ho Ho).

On Chain Of Steel or Liar Lion, the relentless force of the drums is, at first, tempered, then channelled, by softer percussive brushes, bringing some welcome new textures and, as the pace is more controlled, Wallentin’s vocals greatly gain in clarity. At times, things take a turn for the truly visceral, but not in the way they did on Heatcore. On So Soft So Pink for instance, Wallentin sings through a harmonica for a moment before returning to a more conventional form as the drums, right at the back, kicks in gently, and layer upon layer of steeldrums, cymbals and other instruments are added. Here, it is not the sheer force of the song that hits, but the intricate combination of sounds and the way they grow into a dense cloud. Great Lines is more minimal, at least in its first half, but then grows into a surprisingly light angular pop song, caught up in a shimmering whilwind on windchimes. The album closes on a deeply touching note with the wonderful love declaration that runs through My Heart, building up to Wallentin’s poignant concluding mantra: ‘I’m lost without your rhythm’.

In the year that separate Heatcore from The Snake, Wildbirds & Peacedrums have toured extensively and, if this sophomore effort is anything to go by, gained considerable experience and maturity along the way. Far from de-rooting their sound, the much wider range of sound sources used here has strengthened it and given it a new relief by adding grace and elegance to the pair’s original blistering élan.


Icon: arrow Wildbirds & Peacedrums (MySpace) | The Leaf Label
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