We previewed Olive Skinned, Silver Tongued Sirens Sing Swan Songs, the new album from REW<< back in April, where we were intrigued by blend of avant garde experimentalism and accessible pop sensibilities:
“neo-classical… draws on a wide range of styles and genres to create a surreal, cinematic slice of orchestral pop”
Now the album has been released and I’m glad to say it follows this same blueprint. Opener ‘Big Fish And The Sirens’ is a perfect example of this. The first thirty seconds unfold as a luscious, intricate instrumental before Weber’s vocals arrive and transform the track into a pop song. But just as his vocals take centre-stage and you think you have it pegged, the music responds accordingly, swelling once more so that Weber’s voice is reduced to just another element of a brilliant whole. The song barely reaches the 2:20 mark, yet by the time the music recedes to leave sirens traversing the silence, you feel in the aftermath of something important and on the verge of a larger burst of activity.
As we mentioned in other REW<< and Eric & Magill posts, Weber draws inspiration from across the globe, utilising an array of distinctive sounds side by side to create something akin to the multicultural world in which we live. ‘To Come Unglued’ opens with air-raid siren synths which morph quickly into an Eastern jaunt before the drums and vocals of Western pop kick in. The title track is similarly diverse, a collision of Bollywood and Hollywood scores with the slow, atmospheric percussion of a post-rock anthem. ‘The Lights in the Sands of Katumpkale’ is the soundtrack to a different cinematic world entirely, one where unknown Europeans committed weird to tape, while ‘Cupid’s Empty House’ is a grand dream-pop song, and ‘Swan’s Melody’ is piano-led and melancholic, full of lingering moments and gravid empty spaces.
If this variety sounds jarring then that’s because it is. Weber does not knit all the elements into a seamless whole but rather plays with order and explores the joins, in doing so creating music which addresses our fragmented, postmodern existence. His biggest achievement is managing to assemble the pieces into something listenable for all of it’s idiosyncrasies, with the pop elements acting as a string to follow into the unfamiliar territories beyond.