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Wildbirds & Peacedrums – The Snake

This album from the Swedish two-piece has had numerous plaudits so I was eager to hear it. Aside from being well received in the recorded state they seem to convert those who see them live.

This music is largely rhythmic (their Myspace ‘blurb’ is “drum circle” which effectively sets out their stall) topped by the ‘hard to ignore’ vocals of Mariam Wallentin. The phrasing of the vocals brings to mind (as theses things must) various female singers – all extreme in their own way, all ‘artists’. But that’s not to say every track isn’t distinctly Wildbirds – the rhythmic drive and other unusual instrumentation see to that. And Miriam is certainly her own woman – it’s just what’s come before in terms of female trailblazers are hard to disregard. From sepulchral mass on opener ‘Island’ (Diamanda Galas) to archetypal drum lead ‘There Is No Light (the Blues)’ they show you accurately what to expect in the first 2 songs. ‘So Soft So Pink’ uses breathing through a harmonica to produce a spiritual lullaby before moving to gentle yet powerful vocals that remind you of the work of later Kate Bush or Bjork. ‘Great Lines’ is a more accessible meeting of the 2 ends of W&P, tribal drums (and some splashy cymbals) and a melody working with rather than against.

Dip into this album for a couple of tracks and it is very satisfying but I personally find it pretty wearing as a continuous listen – but then I could say that about The White Stripes take on Blues as well. The strength of vision is admirable and I don’t imagine an easy listen is what they were after – “drum circle” is apt, something of immense power while you are immersed but from the outside a little off-putting.



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