England - Full Moon 233 - 08/29/15
Are you ready for some instrumental music for a children's opera called Waxwings? Yes? Check this out:
Waxwings is the story of a boy and his sister, on their way to the terrors of a new school. There must be some way out. Can the little
waxwing help? Stunning music by Woo Music, animated film, and a superb young cast perform this interactive opera. Family friendly performance suitable for children of all ages.
WOO? WOO are brothers Mark and Clive Ives, who have been recording music for more than 40 years. They've made numerous recordings, in the beginning (well, for years and years) on cassettes
only, just for themselves, but later on their recordings were made available to a 'broader' audience - on LP/CD. WOO's first album (the brothers had recorded some 1,500(!) songs at the time...),
Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong (The Sunshine Series, 1982, re-released by Emotional Rescue in 2013). When reviewed by Andy Gill in the NME, Gill opened with telling
'...how strange that in a year so packed with rhythmic punches of one kind or another, the most enduring noise should come from quarters neither funk
nor punk, but from a pair of brothers seemingly time-locked into the spirit of '67. Or maybe not.'. Gill further told that their music was described as 'sounding
like the music the Durutti Column would of made with Penguin Cafe Orchestra if produced by Brian Eno'. Gill (and the British music press) really liked the album. They raved about it.
However, little happened, except that the Ives brothers continued to write and record songs. The kept on creating music 'which they wanted to hear....
never once thinking anyone else would be interested. It wasn't really important whether anyone else was interested, and that's one of the main reasons why WOO music works so well, and why
it defies all attempts at defining what "kind" of music, it is. It is music which delights in its own existence, and in the process, charms the listener like nothing else.'
(According to their bio at Discogs)
Over the years, the Ives brothers have described themselves/their music as 'alternative, indie-rock, lo-fi-jazz, synth & nostalgic acoustic guitar
music, [...], ambient, new age, spiritual, Indian, angelic, instrumental music - relaxation music for alternative healing, meditation, yoga, shiatsu massage & reiki' Via their Bandcamp
site, WOO combine 'acoustic instruments, mainly guitars and clarinets, with electronics in ways that leave the listener often wondering how the music
was created. Their sound is unique, but has been described as jazz with psychodelic improvisations and pop music for another universe.' Waxwings opens with an overture, "Overture:
Not Going to School, The Waxwings Flys", and from the first notes/sounds you realise that you're exposed to music from another time, another place. From a different, secret place. A secret,
hidden garden of unearthly or otherworldly delights. The tint and hue of the music is hard to describe but easy to dream away to. The music is fragile, almost extramundane sounding. Yet,
the soundscapes are indeed safe and secure. The music is easy to listen to, but far, far away from being easy listening. Some of the 18 tracks are songs taken from their past albums, such as
"Mountains" (from the album Into the Heart of Love, Cloud Nine Music 1990/Emotional Rescue 2014), "Trapped" (from the album When the Past Arrives, 1989 /Drag City, Yoga Records 2014),
"If You Want to Fly" (from the album Live From Venus, Mandala Records 2013), and "Little Bird" (from the album A La Luna, Grunki Records 1991/ rereleased 2013). Their music
is light-footed and light at heart, like a summer's breeze, with several songs from some cabaret-jazzy pop genre. The sound is adventurous, fairy-tailish, magic and mysterious. It's like
the music brought to you by some small animals and little birds from the nearby, city park. It sounds like being some greenhouse chamber folk-pop, or possibly sounding like some spirited,
free-floating and uplifting prog-folk. The innocence and the eccentricity is for sure present, but the result sounds highly professional and well planned, or skilfully arranged. Nothing here
is left to chance. It is a bit strange to imagine this music as the soundtrack to a children's opera show. I guess that you must have been present at the live opera show to experience what
it's all about; to sense the music at close range, framing and 'surrounding' an opera. Waxwings, as the children's opera (which was created by Tim Yealland of the English Touring Opera).
The opera was performed at the Tête à Tête Festival, London, 6 and 7 August 2015. It must have been something special.
Waxwings (the 'music score') was originally released on 8 May 2015. It is a tough job to map the complete discography of WOO (if it's possible at all...). Check out the labels Drag
City, Yoga Records and Emotional Rescue for re-releases, but you should also visit their own Woo Music site. In particular, I am curious about their
2014 record, Please Remember To Breathe (which was recorded between 1990 and 1995) - it's said to be a 'collection of songs with a humorous take on the new age.'
WOO is cool and charming. Most of their songs saw the light of day/was recorded and recorded in the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. All of a sudden they keep popping up and out, as albums.
Go check 'em out. WOO are you? WOO-WOO are you!
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen