I’ve been way behind with my listening recently; still got a bucket of stuff (actually, some of it is in the old washing basket) I’m supposed to review, still got piles of albums and MP3s idly ticking over, mangling the datashields of my iPod… When DSM V finally comes out there’s bound to be some new disorder based around the triple anxiety felt 1) by having too much potential information, too many things that might be your favourite things ever, that might change everything, 2) by having the ever increasing, ever intense feeling that every single thing you listen to, new or old, might simply be adding another brick to the tiresome ‘heard it all before’ wall… and 3) by being frightened (and opposed) to the very idea of your musical education ending and having to retreat into whatever variant of MOR (+E) is waiting out there for you…Woebot‘s latest album is welcome then, in that it seems to come out of nowhere…. or at least, not the places you’d expect a Woebot album to come out with… it’s got vocals, lots of them, and not just vocals but singing, and songs…. and not just songs but… perfect little miniatures, little soapy story songs with minimal embellishment, no samples to speak of (it might be all samples but… it isn’t) and a sense of kitchen sink frankness that keeps things lightly wound.
But seems is key here: this is perhaps less of a departure than a continuation. I spoke highly of Woebot’s Chunks album here and this seems just another step towards what was even then a move towards simplicity. Moanad was dense with samples. inscrutable and deliberately opaque, by Chunks Woebot was edging towards a more honest approximation of his influences; some of the songs on Chunks could have been songs… now, with Hallo, here they are, though now the influences seem more Young Marble Giants than hair metal…
As I mentioned in the Chunks review: “It is groovy, occasionally very groovy… the track I posted here, Argos, with it’s yelps and Hair Metal slutiness is representative, but only cumulatively; the album gets to that state of Sly perfection but the journey is perhaps more interesting; lots of the other tracks sound like someone attempting to find their way towards that state of pure, sexualised groove and thumping bliss…”It’s the cumulative approach that leads me to suspect, all along, that this ostensibly left-field move was clearly signposted… the end result is not quite as I’d imagined (I thought Woebot was going to eventually end up as a Family Stone acid dance yer pants off wigger) but it’s definitely a progression, even if the sounds are unexpectedly tied right back, topknotted, checked.
If I was searching for a recent comparison I guess I’d have to go for the underrated comedown album Songs About Dancing And Drugs by Circlesquare; Hallo has less of an elegaic tone than that album but would serve you well in the twilight hours, after the drugs have worn off and the dancing has crippled your bones.