Song of the day – 485: Woodpecker Wooliams
It’s a standard enough device in music criticism. Preface your article with a disclaimer. “I don’t normally like this sort of music, but…” It implies a form of superiority, you see – infers an immediate understanding between writer and so-lucky reader that, sure, there is so much of this around, but this time, boy oh boy, this time, more than any other time, this time we really have stumbled across the mother lode, or a reasonably close relative thereof. (In reality of course, nothing of the sort is taking place. All that above sentence really means is that the writer is nowhere near as familiar with “this sort of music” as they’d like to have their audience believe: for, if they were, they’d be enjoying it a whole load more and not be so dismissive by neglect.)
I don’t normally like this sort of music…
What is this sort of music?
And, uh, seriously. If I don’t normally like this sort of music than what the heck am I doing listening to it and, worse, setting myself up as some form of authority upon it in the first place? I do like this sort of music. Yes, faint familiarity has brought about faint contempt. Doesn’t mean I don’t like it though, just means I don’t like what I imagine to be the less well-articulated (note to self: probably not the right word) forms of it, even though in all probability I haven’t actually (hem) heard them. This Woodpecker Wooliams album is fucking superb. It’s fucking superb in the way an album I heard by Smog decades ago was superb: mysterious, drenched in ennui and torpor, half-heard vowels mingling in with half-digested sounds of distortion and menace and echo. It has a heart. It has soul. It has silences. But this doesn’t get in the way of anything. It has a directness of form that is not masked for one moment by its imagination. Flipping several years forward I’m dredging up magic from the seafront in Brighton. Surely I don’t need to whisper those words. There so much room left within this (so-full) music for your own imagination to take hold. It’s intimate. It unsettles but never in a nasty way. There are parallels I could draw but I really think it would be counter-productive because they would immediately detract from this music’s grace and exploration.
You could compare her to other singers. But why?
Woodpecker Wooliams has a tremolo voice that doesn’t always sound fully under control.
The press release (always credit your source!) (and I rarely get many press releases these days) mentions something about questions of identity, female hysteria and male aggression. I don’t know about that. Gender roles and family histories. I don’t know about that.
The press release (always credit your source!) mentions something about people being aviomorphised. I like that.
Every song on this The Bird School Of Being Human album by Woodpecker Wooliams is named after a different bird – red kite, sparrow, gull, hummingbird, crow, magpie, dove. I love that. I love focus like that. I love it when musicians actually have some sort of idea about what they’re going to do.
This is great.