Jane Weaver’s eleventh album arrives heralded by the artist’s assurance that it’s the document she “all the time needed to make”. It’s the type of factor that musicians are wont to say on the promotional cycle, nevertheless it feels a little bit unusual coming from Weaver. Her profession has encompassed a wide range of musical types – grunge, people, psychedelia and electronica amongst them – however she’s by no means given the impression of being an artist hidebound by conference or business issues, or anything which may conceivably stop you from doing what you need to do.
She’s evenly brushed towards the mainstream – Coldplay sampled her observe Silver Chord on 2014’s Ghost Tales; the title observe of her final album, Fashionable Kosmology, turned up on the soundtrack of Killing Eve and the album itself made the decrease reaches of the chart – however, for probably the most half, her profession has performed out within the leftfield, the higher to indulge her esoteric music tastes, which presently run to “Lebanese torch songs, 80s Russian aerobics information and Australian punk”. Till not too long ago, her releases got here out on Manchester label Finders Keepers amid reissues of 60s Czechoslovakian movie soundtracks, French free jazz so obscure the musicians who made it wrestle to keep in mind when and the place they did so, and mid-70s musique concrète. No matter you make of its roster, nevertheless, it appears unlikely to be the type of label the place A&R males pound tables and demand artists curb their wilder impulses and provide you with one thing for Spotify’s Teen Get together playlist.
So what’s it that Weaver has felt emboldened to do? Listening to Flock, the reply appears to be: make a pop document, though it’s price noting instantly that such assessments are relative. Flock remains to be very clearly a Jane Weaver album, rooted within the influences that knowledgeable Fashionable Kosmology and its predecessor The Silver Globe: the ghost of Brummie experimentalists Broadcast haunts opener Heartlow; the rhythmic pulse that underpins Fashionable Status owes a transparent debut to krautrock pioneers Neu!; the title observe opens with glimmering chimes and a mass of flute samples that wouldn’t sound misplaced on Weaver’s acid-folk impressed album The Fallen By Watch Bird. The synthesiser noises that float round Weaver’s voice and a primitive drum machine on All of the Issues You Do have extra in widespread with Finders Keepers’ archival releases of esoteric electronics than something within the charts. Nevertheless it’s a noticeably brighter-hued assortment than her latest albums – and positively neon by comparability with Fenella, the ghostly “reimagined soundtrack” to an outdated Hungarian animated movie she launched in 2019.
Foregrounding the melodies which have all the time lurked in her music, it variously detours into Prince-influenced funk on single The Revolution of Tremendous Visions, stomping glitter beats on Phases of Phases – a lighter, airier replace of glam than that discovered on Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry, extra shimmering euphoria than sleazy grind – and dance music on nearer Solarised. The latter is an ideal instance of Weaver’s potential to twist pop music to her own ends. It doesn’t take a large leap of creativeness to image the music at its centre being carried out by Kylie Minogue or Dua Lipa – enticing and hookily business, the rhythm observe and bass matches the present vogue for retooled disco – however the remainder of the association is fashioned by drifting synth tones and flurries. The backdrop surges and ebbs, sometimes threatening to overwhelm Weaver’s voice within the course of: it’s each woozy and euphoric. Equally, the staccato refrain of Sundown Goals feels shut to one thing Radio 1 would possibly play, nevertheless it’s set to a gently hallucinatory collage of sounds: funk bassline, an eddying, amplified dialtone and varied buzzes and hums, a few of them unusually ominous, at odds with the sunlit tune.
The lyrics on Flock usually really feel at odds with the glowing melodies and the airiness of Weaver’s voice, drenched as they’re in what she’s known as “the trials of recent occasions”. “Do you take a look at your self and discover nothing?” she retains repeating on The Revolution of Tremendous Visions, which seems to be concerning the alternately addictive and repellent facets of on-line communication. On different events, she’s extra direct. Fashionable Status finds her raging on the patriarchy and the federal government in cut-glass tones, her cool detachment making her lyrics sound much less like a requirement than an announcement of reality: “It appears we’d like a treatment, we should invent some new concepts … we will drive by way of disaster.” Round her, a dense mesh of electronics pulses erratically, as if the entire thing is about to lose its grip on the rhythm and spin uncontrolled. It feels genuinely completely different and exhilarating, adjectives you possibly can apply simply as simply to the remainder of Flock.
This week Alexis listened to
Pearl Charles: Only for Tonight
LA-based country-ish singer-songwriter goes full mid-70s high-camp glitter ball, replete with echoes of Fox and Abba’s Dancing Queen. A delight.