Thursday, February 10, 2005A True Libertine
There haven't been many bands or artists in the last 60 years of pop music to have made music that is honest, sincere, beautiful, challenging, progressive, boundary and barrier breaking, breathtaking, innovative, deeply unique and inimitable, and conceptually genius, all at the same time. Many can tick a few of these boxes, some can tick more than a few, but only a handful of artists, such as Björk or David Bowie, can claim to be (or have been in Bowie's case) that, while making the most flawless of popmusic, they bare their soul, make music that cannot be pigeonholed in anyway whatsoever and create in ways that nobody has ever done before. Patrick Wolf falls into the latter category (possibly the only category he can ever be put in). If you have been reading this blog for a while, then you will know already how I feel about Patrick Wolf and his debut album, Lycanthropy.
On 21st February 2005 Patrick's second album, Wind in the Wires, is released in the UK. There were originally plans to release two albums, but instead the two different themes of which the two albums would have been composed are on the one album. The first six songs relate to his time spent in Cornwall writing and recording in an isolated cottage. There is then an instrumental composition fittingly titled Apparition which leads into the second half of the album: the haunting ghost section.
The album opens with the lead single, the Libertine; a fitting introduction to the album, detailing Patrick's striving for freedom of all kinds. It is empowering, frantic, urgent. He succesfully captures what it feels like to be on the run through the amalgamation of dark string lead sound with a pounding, yet organic-sounding, drumbeat. The strings blend perfectly into the opening of Teighmouth, a romantic, atmospheric, piano driven song, again arousing the theme of freedom with talk of birds flying south, the wind bringing freedom. It is heavily textured with many layers of vocal effects, seagulls cries, and many many instruments. On the whole, the sound is beautifully delicate in its layers. There are so many subtelties unearthed by successive listens. Having listened to it about 15 times already, I am still hearing new layers and complexities. It really has to be heard on a good sound system to be believed. Even on more stripped-down folky songs like the Railway House, there are still intricate layers in the sound.
The overall effects of such rich composition are intensely atmospheric. As well as all the other artistic innovacy, Patrick's natural knack for composition is reflected in Wind in the Wires even moreso than in Lycanthropy, which would have seemed unthinkable. The ghost part of the album works especially well with the atmosphere created by his composition, but there is clearly more to the success of the album than this. Patrick is a beautiful poet and singer. His voice is emotive and pure, and his accent and pronounciation are very prominent, which is always nice. Without his lyrical genius and his unabashed expressiveness the composition would not work nearly as magically.
But it is his ear for what works well that makes the album so satisfying - the chord changes, the tone...it is a truly perfect record in so many ways. It steps boldly, like Patrick, not only where people haven't had the nerve to go, but where people hadn't even thought of going. The concept and the execution thereof will hopefuly leave all of its many listeners as inspired and full of love as it has left me. It is such a pleasure to have seen Patrick Wolf live and this year I hope that as many people will be able to be touched by his magic. This is too amazing to keep quiet.
He is playing a launch show at the Borderline on 14th Ferbaury in London and will be touring Britain in March/April:
Monday, 28th March – YORK, Fibbers.
Tuesday, 29th March – NOTTINGHAM, The Social.
Wednesday, 30th March – GLASGOW, Mono.
Thursday, 31st March – MANCHESTER, Bernies.
Friday, 1st April – BRISTOL, The Polish Club.