thu 19/10/2017

CD: Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology

CD: Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology

Never mind the inspirations, it’s the musical conceptualist’s songs which matter

Jane Weaver's 'Modern Kosmology': a gesamtkunstwerk

As if listening in on the heart of a robot, it begins with a throb over which a disembodied voice sings as a classic motorik rhythm kicks in. The song, “H>A>K”, perpetually builds and then abruptly ceases. It ends with “I Wish”, where a folky melody is underpinned by rattling drum machine, insistently strummed guitar and analogue synth wash. In between, songs of secret societies, a mysterious architect and attempts to find a destination by tracking the paths of butterflies which may or may not be there.

Conceptually, Modern Kosmology is a triumph. Though inspirations are not hidden – Krautrock, Italian library music, Hawkwind, Eastern European cinema of the Sixties, ecstatic visual art – it is a discrete entity which can be taken on its own merits with no knowledge of the elements fuelling its creation. It’s telling that the Manchester-based Weaver’s earliest solo albums were sparse singer-songwriter conceptions. She knows the song comes first. Without that understanding, her recent albums would be gestural rather than gesamtkunstwerk oeuvres. Likewise, Modern Kosmology is of a piece with 2014’s The Silver Globe and 2010’s The Fallen by Watchbird but this time the emphasis is more on atmosphere and rhythmic insistence than melody, rendering it less direct than its predecessors.

Two niggles. The CD is mastered with louder passages pushed hard into the high end of the peak levels: consequently, noisier sections of songs are rendered harsh, mushy and undynamic. This music needs to breath. A sticker on the sleeve sells Weaver short as “a model student of second-hand Kraut-rock, female punk, new-wave, synthesiser skip-finds and unpronounceable worldly feminine pop.” Despite what it says, Modern Kosmology is not a tick-box exercise in recycling.

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