WILDBIRDS & PEACEDRUMS: Rivers (The Leaf Label)


Posted on Sep 1st 2010 01:18 am

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Wildbirds & Peacedrums: Rivers

The Leaf Label 2010
10 Tracks. 44mins15secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

Earlier this year, Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums released two somewhat different EPs which have now been collected into one full length album. If the drummer/vocalist format has been a tad overdone in recent years, husband and wife Andreas Werliin (drums and percussions) and Mariam Wallentin (vocals and percussions) have developed quite a unique take on experimental pop music in the two years since their debut, Heatcore, was released. At once tribal and visceral on one side, and deeply emotional and oddly cinematic on the other, the duo’s songs have widened in scope ever since. Recorded in Reykjavik in just a few days last January, Retina and Iris, the two EPs making this album, gather some of the band’s most ambitious and impressive songs to date.

The first of the two EPs, Retina, was recorded with the Schola Cantorum Reykjavik Chamber Choir and arranged by cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir. Featuring five particularly dense and epic songs, this is Wildbirds & Peacedrums at their most evocative and cinematic to date. Opening piece Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood in itself is a masterful piece on which the choir provides a stunning backdrop for Wallentin’s copper undertones by accentuating each nuance in the melody and giving it an overwhelming sense of space. This is also very much the case on Peeling Off The Layers, and here, Wallentin’s voice becomes at times much more fragile than ever as slips into confessional mode for part of the song. With no interaction from Andreas Werliin for the whole song, the choir also plays a central role in Under Land And Over Sea in accompanying Wallentin later. Here though, the mood is much more restrained and the choir much more toned down. On the remaining three songs, their is a much more subtle connection between the band and the choir. On Tiny Holes In This World, and even more so on Fight For Me, the drums are placed much more toward the front of the mix, giving them a slightly prominent position over the choir, and while this doesn’t quite threatens the fragile equilibrium of the vocal layers on the former, it isolates Wallentin for part of the latter, at least until the ensemble rejoins her on the chorus.

Iris, the second EP, sees Wildbirds & Peacedrums return to a more usual diptych setting, with Wallentin playing steelpan and occassionally adding organ to her vocal performances. Against the vast reaches of Retina, Iris appears somewhat understated and intimate, despite the constant presence the of the drums. Nuances in the melodies and percussions are particularly subtle, especially on The Course, which ebbs and flows with grace throughout, or on The Lake, which, although seemingly gaining momentum through its all course, never actually gets to a point where it is so intense that it is at breaking point. The songs here have the urgency of some of the pair’s past work, especially on closing piece The Well, which sees Wallentin engaged in a pretty dizzying performance on the steelpan.

With these two projects brought together, Wildbirds & Peacedrums show very different sides of their musical persona, and reveal a much more ambitious vision than they had until now hinted at. These songs, especially those on Retina, have the capacity to turn into something much more grandiose when performed live, but here, they undeniably steal the show by focussing on the emotional scope of the band’s music and amplifying it, but the more understated songs featured on Iris are equally as effective, and continue to assert Wildbirds & Peacedrums as a totally unique band.


Wildbirds & Peacedrums | Wildbirds & Peacedrums (MySpace) | The Leaf Label
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood from Leaf Label on Vimeo.

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